Oct 03

Top 20 Questions For 2015

I recently reviewed how the Mets answered their most pressing questions entering the last season. Many were addressed in the positive, but that’s not to say they won’t have any heading into next year.

Here are the 20 most pressing:

Q: What can be expected from Matt Harvey?

A: It’s anybody’s guess, really. Tommy John surgery has proven to be successful, but everybody’s body is different and there are no guarantees. As of now, GM Sandy Alderson said there are no restrictions. That’s as good as news as possible for now.

WRIGHT: Must bounce back. (AP)

WRIGHT: Must bounce back. (AP)

Q: Will David Wright bounce back?

A: Seems like we’ve been asking that question for a while now. Wright sustained a left shoulder injury and is currently on an extensive rehab program. However, at the end of the six-week program, if he’s not able to swing the bat without pain, there could be surgery, and with it a longer rehab period. The bottom line is Wright, who will be 32 next season, is no longer a given to hit .300 with 25-30 homers and 100 RBI. He needs help. They can move the fences in all they want, but if Wright is injured it won’t do any good.

Q: Will they trade Daniel Murphy?

A: That question has been asked a lot recently. Murphy is their most reliable hitter, but they seem hot on wanting to deal him. Could it be the $8 million they will pay him in 2015? I can’t say this enough, but Murphy by himself won’t bring the power bat they want. They’ll have to include pitching.

Q: Will the bullpen continue to progress?

A: It was much improved in 2014, but bullpens usually have a lot of moving parts. If they lose somebody, say Carlos Torres, or if Jeurys Familia regresses, or Jenrry Mejia has any injury, it’s not as if they can plug somebody right in.

Q: Does Jacob deGrom progress or takes a step back?

A: DeGrom caught a lot of people by surprise this year, but hitters have a way of catching up to a hot pitcher.  He had a solid season and is the leading contender for the National League’s Rookie of the Year Award. That ensures nothing for 2015.

Q: Speaking about pitchers who must progress, what about Zack Wheeler?

A: Wheeler has a good second half, but 11-11 is nothing to get excited about. Wheeler still lacks command and throws way too many pitches, which prevented him from being a 200-inning pitcher and adds to the bullpen’s workload.

Q: Who plays shortstop?

A:  Manager Terry Collins said the job is open and Ruben Tejada is still a candidate. Even so, the offensive upside is greater with Wilmer Flores, who improved defensively.

Q: Who plays left field?

A: Since Alderson said they won’t be big spenders, the assumption is he’ll come from within. Will the Mets give Matt den Dekker or Kirk Nieuwenhuis a real chance, and by this I mean more than 100 at-bats? Odds are they won’t, but will the Mets keep Eric Young?

Q: Can Juan Lagares play a full season – and hit?

A: Lagares ended the year early with a right elbow injury, and has the best arm in the outfield. At the plate, he hit .281 with an on-base percentage of .321, of which the latter needs to get better. His 87-20 strikeouts-to-walks ratio is terrible for a leadoff hitter.

Q: What about the injured guys?

A: In addition to Wright, Lagares, Travis d’Arnaud, Vic Black and Mejia are all coming off seasons in which they are injured. Injuries derailed the Mets before, and they are not any deeper now. Then, there’s the matter of Bobby Parnell, who missed the entire season.

Q: Another 200 innings from Bartolo Colon?

A: That would be sweet. The popular belief is he’ll be traded at the deadline, which would mean the Mets wouldn’t be a contender. Better off to pay him the $11 million for a full season if they are in the race.

Q: Will Jon Niese finally cash his potential check?

A: Only once in his seven-year career has Niese had a winning season. He’s been either injured or ineffective, and 2014 was more of the same as he was 9-11 to raise his career record to an unimpressive 52-51. The Mets have long resisted trading Niese because of his age (27) and reasonable contract ($25 million over five years), but might be inclined to pull the trigger this time.

Q: Another 30 homers from Lucas Duda?

A: With the job his to keep, Duda responded with a 30-homer, 92-RBI season. That might go up if the fences are brought in. He also had an outstanding .349 on-base percentage and showed he can flash the glove. There is nothing but higher expectations for 2015.

Q: Who will be gone next year?

A: Niese is the top trade chip, unless they are willing to gamble on dealing Wheeler. Of course, we’ve talked about Murphy and Young not coming back. Another possibility with Harvey returning and should Noah Syndergaard be ready by June, is dealing Dillon Gee.

Q: Will Curtis Granderson play up to his contract?

A: Twenty homers won’t cut it, especially with a puny .227 average and .326 on-base percentage. He’s a strikeout machine with 141 compared to only 128 hits. That must change. The Mets would love to trade him, but who’ll take such poor production for so much money ($60 million over four years)? You already know the answer to that one.

Q: When will the new guys come up from Triple-A?

A: Don’t bet on before June for Syndergaard. Catcher Kevin Plawecki and lefty reliever Jack Leathersich are also intriguing and could come sooner. Also interesting is lefty starter Steven Matz, who might make it more palatable to trade Niese.

Q: Can the Mets improve within the NL East?

A: They were 38-38 in the division, but a miserable 4-15 against the Washington Nationals. Enough said.

Q: Can the Mets finally have a home field advantage at Citi Field?

A: They were 40-41 in 2014, which was better, but not nearly good enough. Contenders traditionally have a strong winning record at home and play around .500 on the road. The problem is the Mets have never gotten the players they need to compete in their spacious park. They said they would build around pitching and defense, yet their first big signing was Jason Bay, who set them back for years.

Q: Who will lead off?

A: Another annual question. Young is the best base stealer, but neither him nor Lagares have stellar on-base percentages, walk enough and strikeout too much. No question this is a black hole in their lineup.

Q: Can they survive a slow start?

A: Much depends on how they get out of the gate. Will they fold up and start dealing, even before the deadline? A bad start will also hurt at the gate, and lead to questions about when Syndergaard is coming up and Collins’ job security. They finished this season on a high note and can’t afford to regress.

Oct 02

Will Harvey Have Same Post-Surgery Results As Strasburg?

Really late today. Physical therapy and doctor’s appointments all day. Sorry folks.

t’s only been two games, but I am getting excited about the playoffs. I can see the Angels cutting the Royals’ excitement, but I can also see the Giants advancing.

STRASBURG: Can Harvey duplicate him after surgery?

STRASBURG: Can Harvey duplicate him after surgery?

San Francisco has good pitching and finds a way to win. Not sold on the Nationals at all. Something about that team that says: “Stay away from these guys.’’

When it comes to the Nationals, the Mets would do themselves good if they take a good, long look at Stephen Strasburg, today’s starter against the Giants.

In 2010, Strasburg hurt his shoulder and then his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2011, but only pitched 24 innings.

The following season, he tore up the major leagues, going 15-6 before his innings were cut at 159.1.

Washington made an early exit that season and in the subsequent, but the Nationals were criticized for shutting down Strasburg as they projected the aura the playoffs were a given. It alienated a lot of people in the sport.

Strasburg’s strong season in 2012 could have been the result of being shut down, but that’s speculation and the Mets can’t assume Matt Harvey will come back just as strong because everyone’s arm is different.

Sometimes, the arm responds after the first year following surgery. Sometimes, it doesn’t. Strasburg was 8-9 while working 183 innings. This year, he was 14-11 in 215 innings over 34 starts.

The 34 starts, 242 strikeouts, and 1.25 WHIP are positive stats and appear to have vindicated the Nationals.

The Mets would take those numbers and his 2012 record for Harvey. They can only hope.

Sep 27

It’s Clear Harvey Doesn’t Respect You Or Mets

Matt Harvey said respect is why he attended Derek Jeter’s last game in the Bronx. One thing for sure, Harvey doesn’t have respect for his teammates and Mets’ fans.

HARVEY: Disses Mets.

HARVEY: Disses Mets.

How could he, when he prefers to watch the Mets’ most hated rival instead of his own team? Who cares that the Mets were in Washington instead of Citi Field? That’s irrelevant. Had he wanted to be with his teammates, there’s no way they would have prevented him.

None.

Andy Pettitte and Bernie Williams might have talked with them, but in the end both said they couldn’t have played for the rival Red Sox. It just wouldn’t feel right, they claimed.

Still, Harvey had no problem sitting right up front for the New York sports world to see. I’m not the only who was critical of Harvey’s decision, but Harvey doesn’t care what I think. He doesn’t care what anybody thinks.

The guarded reactions from GM Sandy Alderson, manager Terry Collins and several of his teammates, clearly indicated they were uncomfortable with what Harvey did.

For all of 12 major league victories, Harvey’s ego and sense of entitlement is out of control. Many have written Harvey will be out of here first chance he gets, likely signing with the Yankees.

Why wait?

It’s clear he doesn’t want to be here and even clearer that he couldn’t care less with what you feel or think. Why not bring him back for 2015, see how healthy he is, and then trade him?

It’s not as if he wants to be a Met.

Sep 23

It’s Official: Alderson And Collins To Return

The news many Mets fans didn’t want to hear – a three-year extension for GM Sandy Alderson and with it a new contract for manager Terry Collins – was announced this afternoon.

And, that’s a good thing.

“We are excited about the direction the team is headed and look forward to Sandy continuing his efforts to build the Mets into a postseason contender,’’ Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon said in a conference call. “Sandy and his staff have built our minor league system into one of the best in baseball, and will continue to balance player development along with making key additions that will help us reach our goals.’’

ALDERSON/COLLINS: Coming back (AP)

ALDERSON/COLLINS: Coming back (AP)

The minor league system has been greatly improved with the drafting of Zach Wheeler and Jacob deGrom, and trades for Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, Vic Black and Dilson Herrera. (Note: Matt Harvey was drafted in the Omar Minaya regime).

Alderson, hired after the 2010 season, is signed through 2017 while Collins’ option for 2015 was picked up. Alderson hired Collins at that time.

“Terry Collins has done an excellent job for us this season,’’ Alderson said. “The team has played hard throughout the year and this is a reflection of Terry’s energy and his passion for the game and for the Mets. We look forward to his leadership again next season.’’

Both were given “Get out of jail free’’ cards after the news Matt Harvey would miss the season. Despite that, a weak offense and myriad of other issues, the Mets are 76-80 this season after 156 games compared to 71-85 at the same time in 2013, an improvement of five games.

If they finish .500 by winning five of their remaining six games, it would be the first time in the Alderson-Collins tenure.

Just how could the Mets not bring them back, especially considering their mantra has been to make improvement?

There have been the usual grumblings of not spending – they had an $85-million payroll this season – but that’s better than the wasted money spent on the contracts for Jason Bay, Francisco Rodriguez, Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez.

Alderson rid the Mets’ of the clubhouse cancers Perez and Castillo; traded Carlos Beltran for Wheeler; and R.A. Dickey for Syndergaard and d’Arnaud.

On the downside, there were the free-agent signings of Chris Young ($7.25 million over one year); Frank Francisco (two years, $12 million) and right-hander Shaun Marcum (one year, $4 million plus incentives).

Nonetheless, despite not breaking the bank, Alderson has the Mets in better position than when he was hired.

Collins does make some head-scratching comments, such as suggesting New York isn’t that far from Washington, which only makes sense if your measuring stick is miles and not player talent.

The Mets surpassed Philadelphia and Miami in the NL East and enter tonight’s game tied with Atlanta for second.

Be honest, you would’ve taken that in a heartbeat if that were offered coming out of spring training. The Mets still have a lot of issues after this season, but they aren’t the hopeless mess they used to be, even with their murky financial picture.

 

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.