Nov 30

Mets’ Trade Options Limited

The Winter Meetings begin a week from today, but the Mets’ time in San Diego figures to be uneventful because they only have one commodity to spend – and saying that is a stretch.

It is fashionable to say the Mets have lot of young pitching and they do, but they aren’t willing to trade Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. You can appreciate them reluctant to trade any of these foundation building blocks.

GEE: Trying to move him.

GEE: Trying to move him.

But, the Mets are more than willing to trade Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese. The common denominators are they are at the back of the Mets’ rotation and make the most money.

Another common thread is none are expected to bring much in return, which means don’t anticipate anything happening. At least, anything of significance.

Two will be the Opening Day rotation because Syndergaard won’t be brought up prior to June to preserve his Super Two status. Bet on it being Niese and Colon, with Gee possibly going to the bullpen in long relief.

However, at $5 million, that’s steep for the bullpen, and more so for the minor leagues.

With other options, both of the trade and free-agent variety available in the market, teams could shy from Niese ($36.5 million over four years if both options are picked up) and Colon ($11 million).

Niese’s contract, injury history and mediocrity make him especially hard to trade.

If the Mets move any of the three, it might be more likely to happen at the trade deadline.

 

Nov 20

Six-Man Rotation Won’t Happen For Mets

With the topic of cutting Matt Harvey’s innings comes the idea of a six-man rotation.

One reader threw it out there and my response was it was too bold for the Mets’ thinking. That’s part of it, but there other variables.

Baseball doesn’t change easily, and there was a time when the five-man rotation was a novelty. Six? It could happen sometime, but I don’t sense the Mets will be the trailblazers.

Here’s why I don’t think it will happen:

* Pitchers are creatures of habit, which are hard to break. They are accustomed to their present workload of starting every fifth day and adding another day would break that routine. Some might not mind, but Harvey, for one, would pitch a fit.

* Teams have made a considerable investment in their pitchers, and going to a six-man rotation would take away as many as seven starts a year. While that would be perfect for this season and Harvey, it won’t translate over the long haul. These guys want to pitch, and missing seven starts is a lot.

* The Mets have a plan for Noah Syndergaard, and it doesn’t include pitching before June and disrupting his Super Two status. Syndergaard will pitch this season, but not at the cost of moving up his arbitration year.

* The Mets are in position where things could break their way with their rotation and the last thing they want to do is make a move which would force all five starters to make an adjustment.

Six starters sounds good, but it won’t happen.

Nov 19

Mets’ Plan For Harvey Not Concrete

The Mets say they plan to handle Matt Harvey with a “soft’’ innings cap, which is another way of saying they have no plan at all.

HARVEY: Searching for a plan. (Getty)

HARVEY: Searching for a plan. (Getty)

GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets won’t handle Harvey the way Washington dealt with Stephen Strasburg, which was to cut him off in mid-September and thereby miss the postseason, but the speculative nature of his plan could lead to that scenario.

“We can probably accomplish all the things we need to by managing his starts in the rotation,’’ Alderson said.

There’s wiggle room in the word “probably.”

Harvey will open the season on the roster, but there’s no plan to limit him in April when the weather is colder as I suggested. Alderson said the Mets will use off days to by-pass Harvey’s turn in the rotation, but left it more as a “play it by ear,’’ thing than to map out things from the start of the season.

There was also nothing mentioned about shaving his innings per game, such as a seven-inning ceiling.

To me, without anything clearly defined there’s too much of a chance the innings would accumulate and the Mets might get caught short late in the season.

Alderson suggested to give him a two-week shutdown around the All-Star break, which makes considerable sense. The Mets did this last season with Jacob deGrom and he was strong in the second half. A positive to this is it will give the Mets an idea where Harvey stands and from there they could lay out a concrete plan for the second half.

What the Mets won’t do is go with a six-man rotation, which would be a cutting edge move. Harvey pitched 178.1 innings in 2013, and I don’t see any way he’ll pitch more than that in 2014. However, what I can see is if the Mets aren’t definitive about Harvey things could get away from them.

And, that would be a shame.

Nov 17

Mets’ Collins Optimistic About 2015

As far as guarantees go, it was rather weak, but considering the boast came from Terry Collins it was bold enough. Not only will the Mets’ string of six losing seasons come to an end, but they should make the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

Pointing to a young core and return of David Wright and Curtis Granderson that should be enough to get them over the hump.

“We should be playing in October,’’ Collins told reporters this week. “Our young guys are starting to grow, with the addition of some offense, and … we’re not done. … I think 2015 is going to be a good year for us.’’

The key, or course, is Matt Harvey’s recovery from elbow surgery; development of Zack Wheeler; and a encore season from Jacob deGrom that comprise the core of a young pitching staff.

If the pitching holds up and Wright and Granderson have bounce back seasons, that should put them into contention for a wild-card berth. The NL East title? Not so much.

 

Nov 14

Mets Bracing For Innings Showdown With Harvey

It’s getting close to spring training because the topic of limiting innings for Matt Harvey is again a topic. GM Sandy Alderson indicated as such at the GM meetings this week in Phoenix and manager Terry Collins said so Thursday during a public appearance at a food pantry.

HARVEY: Caution, caution, caution. (AP)

HARVEY: Caution, caution, caution. (AP)

It’s a no-brainer with Harvey coming off Tommy John surgery. With Harvey’s return, the Mets are pointing toward 2015 as when they believe they will be competitive. The one thing they can’t afford is to lose Harvey.

“Certainly we might skip him here and there once in a while, just to save him,’’ Collins told reporters. “That will all be explained to him and there’ll be arguments and he’ll throw a tantrum in the office but it’s all part of the job because he wants to pitch and he wants to win.’’

Yeah, yeah, yeah. That sounds good. Sounds heroic. Sounds inspiring. Sounds like a lot of nonsense.

If Harvey can’t understand the Mets’ reasoning for limiting, then he’s not as bright as he has been portrayed. Then again, pitching smarts and off-the-field smarts are two different things.

Don’t get me wrong, I like what Harvey brings to the table, but he can’t bring anything if he’s hurt. He’s already been a thorn to Alderson and Collins for how he handled his rehab and insistence of wanting to spend more time in New York instead of Florida.

He made a big deal about wanting to be with his teammates, yet went to Yankee Stadium to watch Derek Jeter. Nobody connected with the Mets says anything negative about Harvey for fear of alienating him.

Never mind that, my take is Harvey tweaking the Mets’ brass and Alderson’s often testy relationship with the pitcher’s agent, Scott Boras, says he’s a goner once he becomes a free agent.

Of course, that’s a bridge Alderson has to jump off of later. For now, it’s now to cut the innings.

The best way is to tell Harvey during spring training and making sure he understands this isn’t negotiable.

There are six months in a baseball season, so missing one start a month shouldn’t be hard to figure out. Assuming six innings a start, that’s 36 innings saved. They might also consider missing more time in April when the weather is still cold and there’s a greater chance of hurting his arm. Then, there are shaving innings in blowouts, one way or another. Put a cap on his starts at seven innings.

This shouldn’t be hard to figure out for Alderson and Collins. As for Harvey, he has to realize he’s not in charge. With only 12 major league victories, he’s hardly in position to be calling the shots.