Jun 29

Mets Getting What They Want From Tebow

I just got a call from a radio station wanting to talk about Tim Tebow. The question was: Was this just a promotion or does he have a real chance of playing in the major leagues?

Today is June 29 and a California radio station wants to talk about Tebow. To me, that’s what the Mets wanted and why they are paying Tebow minor league dollars, which isn’t much.

I don’t know if Tebow has the ability to play in the majors, but I do know, from what everybody says, that he’s sincere in what he’s doing.

For the Mets it is a feel good story. It’s better than asking what is wrong with the Mets? When will Noah Syndergaard be back? What about Matt Harvey? Will David Wright ever play again? Will Terry Collins be fired?

Every time you want to write off Tebow, he does something. Divine intervention? Who knows?

But, we’re talking about the Mets and it is positive for once. That’s what they wanted.

Jun 20

Today’s Question: What’s Wrong With Zack Wheeler?

The ancient Greeks may have had their idea of tragedy, but they never had to stay up until 2 to watch the Mets. How does a team hit four home runs and score six runs against the sport’s best pitcher, but lose the game?

WHEELER: In trouble. (AP)

WHEELER: In trouble. (AP)

Actually, it’s very simple when your starting pitcher gives up seven runs and lasts only two innings. That’s Zack Wheeler, who lasted 1.2 innings and gave up eight runs in his previous start. That’s 15 runs in 3.2 innings.

Concerned is an understatement.

“When you’ve got that kind of stuff and you’re getting hit like [Wheeler] is getting hit, there is something wrong and we’ve got to get to the bottom of it,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “He’s too good. He’s got too good of stuff.’’

But “stuff’’ is too broad a term. Stuff is more than throwing hard. It includes movement, location and command of his secondary pitches.

“Honestly, I haven’t had off-speed pitches all year, and now it’s starting to catch up to me,’’ Wheeler said. “Those guys get scouting reports and now it’s starting to catch up to me. It’s easy [for hitters] when you can’t throw off-speed for strikes and you’re just throwing fastballs.’’

And, fastballs with little movement that hang out over the plate get crushed. But, it might not be just one issue.  Wheeler’s problems can be attributed to a myriad of circumstances:

HEALTH: Wheeler said he’s fine, but Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey each said they were all right and both are on the disabled list.

Mets’ pitchers are notorious for withholding physical ailments and trying to pitch through discomfort, so it wouldn’t surprise me if something crops up with Wheeler.

HITTING A WALL: Wheeler missed the last two seasons following Tommy John surgery and a complicated healing process. It’s quite possible he’s hit a wall.

The solution for that could be to shut him down for his next start and give him time to rest.

TIPPING PITCHES: Collins said they’ll look at video in an attempt to spot any mechanical issues. While they are at it, examine the tape carefully to spot any giveaways to what’s coming.

The Dodgers’ first five hitters swung the bat like they knew the pitch.

Something isn’t right with Wheeler and the Mets’ would be wise for him to skip a start as they search for answers.

 

Jun 16

How Mets Derailed Harvey’s Comeback

Stuff happens, but why does it always seem to happen to the Mets? Let’s not disregard GM Sandy Alderson as a possible explanation. That’s certainly the case with Matt Harvey‘s recent trip to the disabled list for stress to his shoulder that is the cause for his tired arm.

ALDERSON: Bears responsibility for Harvey. (AP)

ALDERSON: Bears responsibility for Harvey. (AP)

When Harvey’s fastball barely touched 90 in spring training, pitching coach Dan Warthen said following thoracic outlet surgery one couldn’t expect him to be at full strength until the end of May. On March 15, I wrote if the Mets had the guts to leave Harvey off the Opening Day roster. They did not, of course, which isn’t surprising.

If Harvey wasn’t going to be full strength until May, then why was he on the Opening Day roster? Manager Terry Collins doesn’t make those decisions, Alderson does.

Perhaps there was a sense of urgency on Alderson’s part because neither Steven Matz nor Zack Wheeler were expected to be ready for the Opening Day roster. Even so, that’s not a good enough reason. Just because one player is injured and not ready it doesn’t give Alderson license to rush another player who isn’t ready.

Alderson had the authority to keep Harvey behind and chose not to. As far as Harvey goes, he’s staring at the end of his career and certainly wouldn’t rock the boat regarding his treatment.

The bottom line is that once again an issue involving Harvey was mishandled, but this time it was the Mets’ doing.

 

 

 

Jun 14

Harvey Has Tired Arm

Mets manager Terry Collins turned to his pitching coach, Dan Warthen, in the third inning after a Matt Harvey pitch and asked, “What was that pitch?”

The radar gun read 89, and Warthen said he thought it was a slider, but wasn’t sure.

“Well, we better find out,” said Collins, who was concerned about his starter, who gave up back-to-back homers to Anthony Rizzo and Ian Happ to open the game.

Warthen reported back, telling Collins it was a fastball, but Harvey also told him his arm felt tired. Collins decided to give Harvey at least another inning, which could have proven costly after Kyle Schwarber’s monster homer over the Shea Bridge.

The amateur diagnosis is a fatigued arm, or dead arm, but the Mets will get something more official after he’s examined Thursday.

“It’s pretty tired,” Harvey said of his arm. “My arm wasn’t working at all. It’s frustrating to be taken out that early. It’s very difficult. There’s been a lot of discomfort. It’s been pretty hard on me physically.”

Harvey threw 104 pitches in five scoreless innings in his last start, but gave up four runs on three homers in four innings in tonight’s 9-4 victory over the Cubs.

Things haven’t been easy for Harvey this year following thoracic outlet surgery last year. Harvey used to be overpowering, averaging at least one strikeout an inning, but has only 54 in 70.1 innings this season. He’s also given up 67 hits and 35 walks for a lofty 1.45 WHIP, and 16 homers in 13 starts.

GRANDERSON HITS MILESTONE: If there is a positive about Yoenis Cespedes’ lingering leg issues since coming off the disabled list, it is giving Curtis Granderson more playing time. After battling back to tie the game at 4-4, Granderson hit the 300th homer of his career to jumpstart the Mets’ five-run eighth.

TODAY’S INJURY: Expect Neil Walker to go on the disabled list Thursday with a hamstring pull.

 

 

 

Jun 12

Mets Need The Real DeGrom

Even when the Mets had a healthy Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey on staff, Jacob deGrom was still the best they had to offer. Nothing seemed to rattle him; he had no prima donna instincts; he had the best combination of velocity and command.

DE GROM: Needs to find himself. (AP)

DE GROM: Needs to find himself. (AP)

DeGrom said he’s healthy which is what makes his sluggish start so puzzling.

The 4-3 record isn’t such a big deal because it can be written off as a lack of run support or a leaky bullpen. However, the 15 runs he’s allowed in his last two starts and 4.75 ERA are particularly head scratching.

We’re used to seeing deGrom give up 15 runs in a month – maybe five starts – not eight innings in his last two. That’s not deGrom.

“It’s frustrating, but I’ve been able to go out and pitch that way, and you have to make an adjustment,” deGrom said after his last start against the Rangers. “You have what you have that day and I’ve done a poor job of that my last two starts, not being able to get outs without having my best stuff, which in the past I was able to do.”

DeGrom said he’s been able to pinpoint the problem but can’t get a handle on the solution. It’s akin to having an itch in the middle of your back and not being able to scratch.

In detailing his problems against the Rangers in his last start, deGrom said: “If you look at my misses, they were either to a righty down and away or up-and-in,” deGrom told reporters last week in Texas. “I’m either yanking the ball or it’s sailing on me, so that tells me it’s rotational.

“This game is not easy. These are big league hitters and when you make mistakes over the middle of the plate, that kind of thing happens, which obviously I have done over my last two starts.”

DeGrom said he’s flying open too soon with his front shoulder while striding to the plate. This is about timing, about muscle memory, and about the placement of his lead arm and shoulder as he begins his stride toward the plate.

Is this related to his elbow surgery? DeGrom says no; he says he’s not ailing.

DeGrom has always been honest and not condescending, unlike Harvey and Syndergaard have been in the past.