Aug 19

Great Players Make Little Plays; Mets’ Matt Harvey Did Not In Loss At San Diego

Yes, the New York Mets threw away another Matt Harvey start, but in fairness, the Wonder Pitcher also threw away Sunday’s game in San Diego.

HARVEY: ``Missed it by that much.'' (Getty)

HARVEY: “Missed it by that much.” (Getty)

Harvey has 12 no-decisions and overall the Mets are 13-12 when he starts. Those are telling stats of both parties. For the Mets, again ten games below .500, they are equal opportunity when it comes to disappointing their starters.

Harvey, meanwhile, and he’s the first to admit it, must do more of the little things, and not just pitch longer than the six he did Sunday. Harvey, who has made 35 career starts, desires himself to be a great pitcher, and others have the same projection.

That means not hit a batter with an average barely over the Mendoza Line and field a chopper off the mound.

Harvey gave Sunday’s no-decision and Mets’ defeat a typical “that’s baseball,’’ shrug, but you know he’s steamed because he understands that loss was on him as much as it was on the offense and Pedro Feliciano.

The Mets scored four runs and Harvey has a 2.25 ERA and gave up only two runs. Do the math. The bare numbers point to Feliciano, who gave up a game-winning homer to Will Venable. However, a walk-off game is much more than the play that ended it.

Truly great pitchers don’t hit the .208-hitting Logan Forsythe to open the fifth, and later that inning not come up with Venable’s chopper that drove him home. The chopper would have been the second out and not made Alexi Amarista’s sacrifice fly possible.

Had Harvey made those plays, he would have gotten out of the inning scoreless and picked up his tenth win. That’s probably all he thought about on the flight to Minnesota.

The headline is Venable’s homer, but walk-off games contain numerous plays earlier that mean the difference. The two plays Harvey did not make are similar to those not made by his teammates in his four losses, but more importantly, in the 12 team losses in which he started.

How many plays in those games did Harvey not make, by either giving up a walk, not closing out a hitter or inning, or failing to put down a sacrifice? It’s tight as the Mets lost 11 of those games by a combined 18 runs. There is plenty of responsibility to go around, by Harvey and his teammates. One less bad pitch; one more hit.

Great teams, and great players, make the plays, and “great’’ can’t be applied to, either Harvey or the Mets. Not now, anyway.

This has been a scintillating, yet frustrating season for Harvey, as he sees the greatness that is just beyond his grasp, much like Venable’s chop.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond to them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 18

Mets Playing Fast And Loose With Mejia’s Elbow

Another day, another injury for the New York Mets, and not surprisingly, one involving a pitcher.  Jenrry Mejia didn’t make it out of the fourth Saturday night in San Diego because of pain caused by a bone spur in is right elbow. His season is in jeopardy as he likely will be placed on the disabled list today.

This is not new for Mejia – he left a game in Miami, July 31 – and he is supposed to have off-season surgery.

MEJIA: Is season over? (AP)

MEJIA: Is season over? (AP)

What has been reported is pitching coach Dan Warthen said, “Mejia did not warm up well,’’ which should make anybody wonder why he started in the first place.

If somebody is known to be hurt, is scheduled for surgery, and has difficulty warming up, one would think caution would be exercised. One would think.

Yes, I am more cautious when it comes to injuries than the Mets. I also know that after covering baseball for two-and-a-half decades, one should bet the over. It rarely breaks the other way.

A roster move will be made today, so figure Mejia going on the disabled list. Of course, that doesn’t take away what further injury might have been sustained Saturday.

General manager Sandy Alderson spoke like the lawyer in defending starting Mejia.

“We all know that he’s had some issues with his elbow,” Alderson said. “He was pitching to [pain] tolerance. That tolerance was exceeded tonight apparently and he had to come out. The doctor here took a look at him, but at this point it’s about his symptoms. They were obviously severe tonight, and we’ll see where this takes us.’’

Sometimes, you just want to scream listening to Alderson.

If the Mets knew he had issues, he shouldn’t have started following a bad warm-up. He should have been given an MRI. And, what in the hell is pitching to pain tolerance? Is it pitching just before serious damage is done?

The Mets, predictably, said there was no chance of further injury. Care to guarantee that assessment? The spur has to be rubbing against something to cause pain.

If surgery is to happen, it is to remove a pain-producing problem. Yes, bone spurs can cause damage, and yes, they can cause a pitcher to overcompensate in his delivery and produce a residual injury.

Alderson has been around long enough to know both possibilities.

Mejia was pitching well since returning to the Mets, but after the Miami incident, considering the team already determined he’d have surgery, it should have been done immediately.

The Mets are going out of their way to protect Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler with innings limits, but they saw no reason to protect Mejia, who already had Tommy John surgery.

The Mets mishandled Mejia in juggling his roles several times under Jerry Manuel, and it appears they are doing it again.

Why are they playing fast and loose with Mejia?

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 17

Mets’ Terry Collins Deserves To Stay

The firing of Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel has put Terry Collins’ status with the New York Mets into the forefront.

The sacking of Manuel demonstrates once again baseball is widely unfair. After a long playoff run, which included several trips to the World Series, followed by a run of injuries from Chase Utley to Ryan Howard to Roy Halladay, the Phillies are south of the Mets, both in the standings and on the map.

COLLINS: Merits another introductory press conference.

COLLINS: Merits another introductory press conference.

So naturally, Manuel is out.

Collins, in the final season of his contract, could finish 2013 with his third straight losing year the Mets’ fifth overall, but is expected to get an extension because of how well the team has performed despite not adding significant pieces and substantial injuries.

After winning the first two games of the San Diego series, the Mets are eight games below .500, but have a reasonable chance of finishing even, but second place appears less likely.

Should the Mets lose the remainder of their games they would have 106 losses, a number many predicted of them heading into the season.

However, with several key injuries – including David Wright, Jon Niese, Johan Santana and Bobby Parnell – a patchwork bullpen and outfield, and dreadful slump of Ike Davis, the Mets adjusted on the fly and are playing competitive ball.

For the most part, the Mets have played well fundamentally, while breaking in a new outfield, and always seem to play hard for him. Collins has had several head-scratching moments, but has generally been solid.

When teams hustle and keep their heads in the game, it indicates the manager has things under control. Collins definitely merits an opportunity to stay now that resources have been promised.

Also working in Collins’ favor is nearly half the roster is different than what he left spring training with, and he’s had to juggle with 92 different line-ups in 120 games. That is almost incomprehensible.

The Mets appeared to have answered five significant spots this season, including positives in the development of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler; Parnell’s acclimation to the closer role; and the additions of outfielders Eric Young and Juan Lagares.

There have been other positives, such as the catching tandem of John Buck and Anthony Recker; the mostly solid play of Daniel Murphy at second base; and the play of Marlon Byrd in right field and Omar Quintanilla at shortstop.

There remain several holes and questions, but overall Collins deserves to be in that dugout next season. Not only that, he needs to stay.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 14

Did Mets Mishandle Wilmer Flores Injury?

Once again the New York Mets’ handling of an injury leaves us scratching our heads. This time, it is Wilmer Flores, who one week into the major leagues, isn’t wise or brave enough to say, “hey, something is wrong here.’’

FLORES: Limping to DL? (Getty)

FLORES: Limping to DL? (Getty)

Flores sprained his right ankle running the bases Monday, did not play Tuesday and could soon go on the disabled list. All this in the wake of rookie infielder telling reporters: “It’s just sore. That’s it. I was able to play. … I think I’ll be all right.’’

But, his career is a week old, so I can’t blame him. But, what should be done is question the decision not to take him out of the game and not have him undergo X-Rays or a MRI.

In contrast, Giants defensive back Antrel Rolle sprained his ankle the same day, had a MRI and is in a walking boot. The Mets haven’t even said when Flores will get a X-Ray, but we should presume today.

Terry Collins, whom I have written should be brought back, said Flores stayed in the game after getting his ankle taped after the half-inning. He didn’t say if they spit or rubbed dirt on the ankle.

Collins explained: “It’s pretty stiff. In this world we live in, there’s always the possibility of the DL. We certainly won’t know anything for a day or so. I think the fact that he was taped up might have kept it a little bit intact. But after the game he was very, very uncomfortable. And [Tuesday] he was even worse.’’

Part of the Mets’ “new culture’’ after the hiring of GM Sandy Alderson was a better, cleaner, handling of injuries.

Before, Ryan Church, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Jenrry Mejia, Pedro Martinez and Mike Pelfrey were mishandled. Later in the Alderson Era, it has been David Wright – several times, including let him play with a fracture in his back and the recent hamstring strain that has him on the disabled list – Reyes, Johan Santana and Ike Davis.

Beltran, in fact, was so botched that he had surgery on his own which turned out to be a mitigating factor in his departure from the team.

All this, and Collins was taking preliminary bows the other night about limiting the innings of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler to protect them from injury. All that, but there’s no mention of limiting Mejia, who is pitching well after coming off Tommy John surgery.

The bottom line is Collins has been around long enough to know not to listen to a player when he says “I’m fine,’’ because players are notorious liars.

If that bottom line isn’t bold enough, then try this one: Get a MRI!

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 13

How The Mets Morphed Into A Team

With a few exceptions, the New York Mets resemble little the team that broke spring training. Only two players, Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis, were the expected starters this late in the season who were in the line-up Monday night in Los Angeles.

And, only recently is Davis’ performance at the plate reaching major league standards. And, Murphy will be the first tell you last night wasn’t major league standards for him defensively, but that’s another matter.

Davis is playing well, but not hitting for power and his spot next year is far from secure.

Around the infield, John Buck was to have been replaced by Travis d’Arnaud at catcher; Ruben Tejada was to be at shortstop, not Omar Quintanilla; and third baseman David Wright being on the disabled list gave Wilmer Flores an opportunity.

How well d’Arnaud plays on this level remains a mystery, and Tejada is playing his way out of the organization.

Ironically, Flores’ development could mean the end of Murphy’s tenure with the Mets as Terry Collins is talking about playing him at second base. However, he could sit after twisting his ankle.

From left to right in the outfield, we all knew Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Colin Cowgill in center, and Mike Baxter in right wouldn’t last. Cowgill hit a grand slam Opening Day and was on the bench within two weeks.

Duda is in the minor leagues saying he wouldn’t mind being a DH, which couldn’t make Sandy Alderson happy; Nieuwenhuis is in the minors while Cowgill was traded; and Baxter is again a role player.

Eric Young filled the lead-off hole and there’s no way Duda could replace him in left; Juan Lagares is the centerfielder of the present and future; and role player Marlon Byrd turned out to be the team’s best offensive player.

Anticipate Byrd asking for two years and not being retained.

Zack Wheeler and Jenrry Mejia weren’t in the Opening Day rotation and both are pitching as if they have plans to never leave. We know, barring injury, Wheeler isn’t going anywhere.

The bullpen has been superb the past month, but has also been patchwork. Bullpens always need tinkering; so don’t be surprised if there are new faces next spring.

The expectations of the Mets were low this spring and it is a reflection of how Matt Harvey’s development and how well Collins and his staff have done to where .500 or second place are even possible goals.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos