Feb 22

Wright’s Comeback Is Key Met Issue; Acknowledges He Must Adjust

Numerous times I’ve said the most pressing issue with the Mets is David Wright’s health – regardless of what happens with Matt Harvey.

Wright is entering the third season of an eight-year, $138-million, an award for being the face of the franchise and the promise of what he could bring to the Mets through the 2020 season. When Wright is whole, the Mets have a chance of being the same.

WRIGHT: Change in the air. (AP)

WRIGHT: Change in the air. (AP)

He had a decent 2013 season hitting .307, but injuries limited him to 112 games. A shoulder injury cut last year short and held him to eight homers and only 63 RBI. He hasn’t hit at least 25 homers with 100 RBI since 2010, and that’s the basis for him being the key issue – if he doesn’t start post real All-Star numbers then the contract becomes a burden and consequently a distraction.

That’s why what he told reporters Sunday was important. He acknowledged the need to slow it down from time to time. Only twice in the last five years has he played as many as 155 games, and even that might be too much.

“I think it is probably to the point where I have to be a little more realistic that it’s probably not in my best interest or the team’s best interest to go out there and play 162 games,’’ Wright said. “I think a good off day here and there probably can be beneficial for both me and the team.’’

But, that’s up to Terry Collins. If he left it up to Wright, he’d play. Collins must be disciplined enough to have a plan with Wright and stick to it. Usually, that means resting him the day before an off day. That’s a two-day rest.

Wright also acknowledged he must modify his game, meaning being more selective and concentrate on driving the ball in the gaps and not worrying about pulling.

“I remember our first year in Citi Field [in 2009], I think I hit 10 [homers] and I felt like I had a very productive season – and it was because of driving runs in, scoring runs,’’ Wright told reporters today in Port St. Lucie. “I don’t judge a season by how many home runs I hit. It’s more being productive, more being a middle-of-the-order-type hitter, where I’m driving in runs, scoring runs.

“The thing that bothered me last year wasn’t the lack of home runs. It was more that I just didn’t feel like I was the hitter I’m capable of being.’’

At 32, Wright’s best days are behind him, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be good ones ahead of him. After all, he has six more years, and with the Mets thinking playoffs, they can’t afford Wright being a shell of what he has been. He’s at the stage of his career when he knows he has to adjust. Professional hitters are able to do that – which is what he acknowledged this afternoon.

Wright has always been a pro, and I wouldn’t expect anything less of him now.

 

Feb 16

Mets Should Have No Rush To Trade Gee

Dillon Gee threw off the mound Monday, three days ahead of schedule, but how long will he remain with the Mets?

Gee is the Mets’ sixth-ranked starter, and that doesn’t include Rafael Montero or Noah Syndergaard, both of whom will be promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas this summer. Yes, the Mets are boast a glut of starting pitching, but exactly how deep is it?

GEE: Has value. (Getty)

GEE: Has value. (Getty)

Since I don’t believe the Mets will get immediate major-league help in exchange for Gee, the belief here is he has a higher value on the 40-man roster than as a trade chip. It’s realistic to say the Mets’ rotation isn’t without questions, beginning with health. Let’s forget for a moment the potential for any pitcher to develop arm problems at any time, and look at these issues:

Matt Harvey: He’s recovering from Tommy John and has only 12 career victories in parts of two seasons. Despite his confident statements to the contrary, nobody knows how Harvey will respond coming back from the knife.

Bartolo Colon: As they did with Gee, the Mets will listen to any and all offers for Colon. At 41, he threw 200 innings last season and would be a find for a contender. However, that’s a trade better suited for July.

Zack Wheeler: His command is an issue, and despite glimpses of being the real deal, he’s still largely unproven.

Jacob deGrom: The 2014 NL Rookie of the Year only has last year under his belt. He still has a lot to prove.

Jon Niese: His potential has always outweighed his production. The Mets were also willing to trade him over the winter.

Steven Matz: He’s unproven.

Rafael Montero: Glimpses, but nothing else.

Noah Syndergaard: He’s unproven.

The potential is great, but since there are no guarantees there could be enough chances for Gee to be slotted into the rotation. For now, the $5.3 million they’ll pay him this year represents a solid insurance policy, but for now will likely be used in long relief.

Just trading him for the sake of making a trade is foolish, especially considering the chance for something to go wrong and for him to fill a sudden void. And, if the rotation stays healthy for the first half of the season and Gee pitches well, there could be July interest in him that isn’t there now.

Gee has always been a gamer, and two years ago threw nearly 200 innings. The Mets have control over him for two more years, so there shouldn’t be any rush to trade him. Gee’s preference is to be a starter with the Mets, but that’s not happening right now. He told reporters in Port St. Lucie he’s willing to work out of the pen.

“If I’m asked to be a reliever, then I’m going to do the best I can. … I have no doubt that I can be successful,’’ he said.

And, I have no doubt if they keep Gee, he’ll be of value to the Mets.

Feb 14

Forget NBA, Baseball Still Has Best All-Star Game

For all the tinkering Major League Baseball does with its All-Star Game, it remains superior to the other All-Star Games, including the one we’ll see Sunday night.

Of course, all are commercialized to death, but the baseball edition still is played as a sport. They still play the game, unlike basketball and football, where defense is forgotten and it’s mostly showboating.

Those two are basically pick-up games.

I like the baseball game better because performances have to be earned. It’s also that way in hockey, where not much of anything can be predicted. The batter still has to hit the ball, whereas the basketball game can easily be taken over by a singular player.

In football, with no blitzing, there aren’t many quarterbacks who can’t light up a secondary.

This might sound weird, but one of the reasons I like the baseball game better is that players wear their own uniforms. In that, you get a sense of team. You don’t get in the other games, with the exception of football and their helmets.

Another reason is history.

Selected games in all sports have their moments, but there is a history, a tradition, to the baseball game. Ted Williams’ game-winning homer in 1941 in Detroit; Reggie Jackson going off the light tower, also in Detroit; the 15-inning 1967 game in Anaheim, when pitchers actually pitched, with Catfish Hunter going five innings in relief; Pete Rose running over Ray Fosse; Johnny Callison winning the 1964 game at Shea Stadium; how New York buzzed over Matt Harvey two years ago.

There are so many more, but after awhile the dunks all look the same in the NBA game. And, please, the fashion week adds nothing.

Feb 12

Harvey Weighs In On A-Rod. Yanks In His Future?

Future Yankees pitcher Matt Harvey, who grew up in Connecticut cheering for the team in the Bronx, weighed in on Alex Rodriguez’s return.

Harvey told the New York Post this week: “Obviously Alex wants to play, that’s good for him, good for baseball. If he is that dedicated and wants to come back then more power to him for going up to the organization like that, it shows a lot. It will be exciting to see what he can do.’’

Harvey’s affection for the Yankees is well known as is his strong desire of playing in New York. Although he said all the right things a few days ago, it can’t be forgotten about his sparring with Mets’ management about where he would do his rehab and wanting to pitch last year. And, it must remembered he won’t have to move he signed with the Yankees.

What Mets’ fan can forget Harvey being photographed at Yankee Stadium watching Derek Jeter? The Mets bit their tongue on that, but privately they weren’t happy, from the front office to the clubhouse. Perhaps they would have said something had Harvey worn a Yankees’ cap.

Harvey will be under Mets’ control through the 2018 season, but by that time could have gone through several arbitration processes, which can get be tension filled.

If the Mets continue to pinch their pennies until then, who can’t see him moving on, especially with his agent being Scott Boras?

We don’t know what the Mets’ financial landscape will look by then, or even if they’ll be a contender. However, this much we know, Boras usually takes his clients through the free-agent process looking for every last dollar. And, we also know the Yankees, unlike the Mets, aren’t afraid to spend and have the resources to live through a bad contract.

Sure, this is a few years down the road, but Boras operates with a multi-year calendar.

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.