Sep 07

Mets See Good In Zack Wheeler Despite Loss; Scott Rice Season Ends

The result wasn’t what the New York Mets wanted, but overall they must be pleased with what they’ve seen from Zack Wheeler this season.

Even Friday night when he walked five in five innings in a loss at Cleveland.

WHEELER: Not a kid anymore.

WHEELER: Not a kid anymore.

I thought Wheeler might have been rushed to the major leagues because he didn’t dominate at Triple-A Las Vegas, and that idea seemed to be reinforced when his control was off early. Wheeler seemed to correct the problem, but it resurfaced against the Indians.

However, after the game he told reporters his shoulder was “flying open.’’ That he understood that flaw, no doubt pointed out by pitching coach Dan Warthen, but limited the damage are positives.

What’s next for Wheeler’s development is to not only notice a mechanical issue by himself, but also be able to correct it during the game. The great ones cannot only recognize a flaw by where their pitch went, but correct in during the at-bat.

During his first two starts, the Mets went overboard in calling his pitches – perhaps in the wake of Terry Collins getting messages Wheeler was tipping his pitches – but they quickly abandoned that plan and allowed him to use his fastball.

Although the Mets will limit his innings for the remainder of the season, Wheeler, 7-4, could get another three or four starts, and should he run the table, will have won more games than Matt Harvey.

Who would have thought that in April?

Who also would have envisioned at the time that Scott Rice would still be around?

Everybody expected big things from Harvey, but Rice was easily the Mets’ most inspirational story of the season. Harvey was the given; Rice was the underdog who made good.

The 31-year-old lefty reliever toiled for 14 years in the minor leagues before hooking on with the Mets this spring. He didn’t stick because of the state of their bullpen, but because he deserved to in leading the majors with 73 appearances.

Rice was 4-5 with a 3.71 ERA, but his most important statistic was the .174 average lefties hit off him. As a lefty specialist, that’s important. Rice walked 27 and struck out 41, and could go into spring training as the lead lefty in the pen.

Rice’s season, however, ended with the news he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia and will be out for the remainder of the season.

Even so, Rice was a good Mets’ story this summer. Maybe the best.

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

Sep 04

Could Be Time For Mets To Cut Tejada Loose

A team will often speak to a player through the media, which the New York Mets appear to be doing with the potentially talented, but often moody and sullen shortstop Ruben Tejada.

Appearing on WFAN, GM Sandy Alderson said it was “like pulling teeth’’ to get him to do extra work, which is absurd.

I, for one, will simply yawn when the Mets decide they’ve had enough of Tejada’s sorry act and cut him clean.

Remember, the Mets are a building team trying to establish a new culture, and that culture doesn’t include not hustling; not thinking about what you’re supposed to do when the ball is hit to you or about the hitting situation; or laziness.

What Tejada doesn’t understand, or care about, is the coaches are there for him. If he wants to field extra ground balls or work in the batting cage, all he has to do is ask.

I won’t insult David Wright or any other hard-working Met by comparing him to Tejada.

I wrote the other day the Mets should play Tejada for the rest of the season, but I was clearly wrong. If management still believes after his lengthy stay in the minor leagues that Tejada’s head isn’t on straight, there should be no more chances.

The Mets need production from Tejada, not for his mood attitude to pollute the atmosphere and culture the Mets are trying to establish.

I don’t want to hear anything about Tejada having a rough childhood, or a language misunderstanding. Playing major league baseball is not a right, but an earned privilege.

If Tejada doesn’t want to put the work in, get rid of him. It’s not as if the Mets will be losing anything. There are dozens of players who would be eager to take his spot, and one of them could be better.

Alderson also said Matt Harvey’s injury will have the team dipping into the free-agent market, which is an obvious sign the Mets aren’t expecting him back. Alderson also said the injury, which is up to Harvey to decide on surgery, could force the Mets’ hand and bring up prospects Rafael Montero or Jacob deGrom.

He didn’t say anything about innings counts.

Finally, it was reported the Mets will wait until the off-season before debating what to do with Davis.

Why?

The Mets have long known about Davis’ contractual status and should have an idea by know. Same with Tejada.

The winter isn’t that long.

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

Sep 02

Mets Need Injury Treatment Overhaul

There are several things the New York Mets must evaluate and re-evaluate this off-season, and at the top of the list is their handling of injuries, with the latest being Jon Niese cramping up on a hot and humid night.

Niese already missed time this season with a shoulder injury, and he’s just one in a long line. Matt Harvey is out for the year with a slight tear in his UCL; David Wright is on the DL with a hamstring; Jenrry Mejia had surgery to remove bone spurs; Ike Davis has a strained oblique and could be done for the season; Jeremy Hefner had a similar injury as Harvey; Zack Wheeler had a strained oblique in spring training; Bobby Parnell could require surgery in the offseason on his neck; Ruben Tejada and Lucas Duda each when on the disabled list, then sentenced to the minor leagues.

NIESE: One of many Mets injured in 2013.

NIESE: One of many Mets injured in 2013.

No team goes unscathed during a season, but the appearance is perhaps the Mets have more than most.

Why?

The initial report is Niese cramped on a hot and humid night. Sounds plausible, but with a steady taking of salt tablets and water it could have been preventable. Blame? The trainers need to stay on top of things, but the player must also be diligent.

Maybe both parties were and this was a freaky thing. But, the Mets should monitor to find out. Records could be taken of water and salt intake, just for the preventative research.

Already we know the Mets forced the issues with Harvey, Wright and Mejia, and that must stop. All arm injuries need to be addressed immediately, and with a MRI, because the Mets proved this is a major mishandling.

Hamstring and oblique tightness, as in the cases of Wright and Davis, need to come with immediate days off and treatment. For Wright to play an extra week before his popped is inexcusable, and player, training staff, manager and management must have some culpability.

Do better records need to be kept? Is the initial handling and treatment done correctly? Do the players withhold too much information for fear of losing their job? Are the rest periods too short? Should time on the disabled list be longer?

Do the players lift weights too much, and is there always a monitor for them? In weight lifting, is the weight lifted and repetitions recorded and tracked? Should their lifting be decreased later in the season? Do the players know that just showing up and lifting isn’t the proper procedure?

Are they too tight from the lifting? Should there be more stretching, even yoga, implemented in their routine? There have been cases where football teams have their players train in ballet to loosen the muscles … hey, you never know, is this something that could work?

Whatever the case, part of reaching the next level and taking care of business is staying healthy. This is an area where the Mets promised a new culture, and it is vital it be done.

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

Aug 31

Tom Seaver Partially Correct On Treatment Of Pitchers

Tom Seaver, the best player to ever wear a New York Mets uniform, has forgotten more about pitching than any of us will ever know.

So, in explaining Matt Harvey’s injury, I am buying into his argument pitchers of today are babied. Up to a point.

SEAVER: Go to the whip on today's pitchers.

SEAVER: Go to the whip on today’s pitchers.

We will never again see the likes of pitchers such as Seaver, who 11 times threw over 250 innings. Or Juan Marichal, who threw 30 complete games one season and 27 the next. Think about that for a moment. Fifty-seven complete games in two years is more than a pitcher starting his career today will likely have by the time he retires.

From the high school to college to the minor leagues to the majors, pitchers today are babied. They are handled with kid gloves. God forbid somebody throws over 100 pitches or works past the seventh inning.

They are babied in part because that’s the thinking of today’s managers and pitching coaches, who believe they are protecting their future assets.

That’s the key word – assets.

Look who’s protected and who is not.

High-profile picks Harvey and Zack Wheeler are protected not just because they represent the Mets’ future, but because the club already sunk a considerable amount of money into their future. They are an investment, and as such, they are to be protected.

Like a fine car, artwork, jewelry or cash, they are to be handled carefully as to not squander the investment. You aren’t careless with china or porcelain; teams aren’t careless with pitchers.

I believe Seaver is correct in saying these guys must be built up instead of being held in reserve and “babied.’’

As a part of the body, the arm, elbow and shoulder gets stronger the more it is worked, not the less it is exercised.

It used to be pitchers threw, and threw, and threw. Today everything is monitored, from the innings to the pitches, to the type of pitches thrown. Some teams even monitor and count warm-up pitches.

While the word from above is to be careful with these guys because of the investment made, something else must also be taken into consideration.

A bulk of today’s pitchers are athletes. They are strong, fast and powerful, and as such they throw with incredible violence and torque that pitchers didn’t necessarily have in Seaver’s era, but if they did they were protected by their high volume of throwing.

Seaver is correct, but he didn’t get into the main points, that today’s pitchers are babied because of the investment made in them, and so strong that they outmuscle their mechanics.

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

Aug 30

Mets Wrap: Dillon Gee Continues Hot Pitching

The projected leader in victories for the New York Mets was, of course, Matt Harvey, with the second choice Jon Niese. Dillon Gee might have been the third choice at best.

After Harvey cooled, Gee has easily been the Mets’ most consistent pitcher as he picked up a team high 10th victory tonight against Washington in a 3-2 win.

GEE: Stuffs Nationals. (AP)

GEE: Stuffs Nationals. (AP)

Gee continued his impressive run by giving up two runs on 7.2 innings, and received support in the form of a two-run homer from Ike Davis.

In 17 starts since May 30, Gee is ranked fifth in the majors with a 2.49 ERA, trailing Jose Fernandez (1.52), Clayton Kershaw (1.75), Bartolo Colon, (2.39) and Yu Darvish (2.40).

Gee’s reputation has been one of dependability and consistency, and in the absence of Harvey’s early-season domination because of injury and Niese’s erratic season in part from a shoulder injury, Gee is assumed the role as Mets’ ace.

Who would have guessed?

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