Apr 06

Mets Matters: DeGrom Still Waiting On Baby

The Jacob deGrom family is still awaiting the birth of the couple’s first child, which puts the starter of Friday’s home opener in flux.

mets-matters logoThe current plan is for deGrom to start against the Phillies, but if wife Stacey goes into labor, he could be on a flight to Florida. Well, at least he’ll be close to the airport.

If deGrom doesn’t start, Steven Matz is expected to get the start, although manager Terry Collins did not rule out Bartolo Colon. If deGrom does pitch Friday, Colon would start Saturday, Matt Harvey on Sunday and Matz Monday against Miami.

WALKER WINS BELT: The Mets have a tradition of awarding the star of every victory a wrestling-style championship belt. The season’s first winner is second baseman Neil Walker because of his game-winning two-run homer Tuesday in Kansas City.

“I’ve heard a lot about it –  the mystique of it that comes along,” Walker told reporters. “That was a really cool moment to get it [Tuesday]. But I don’t know if I completely deserve it. You saw what Noah [Syndergaard] did today. I think we’ll split it.”

 

Apr 04

This Year Will Be The Toughest Job Of Collins’ Career

If you heard Terry Collins‘ lame defense of Yoenis Cespedes‘ boneheaded error Sunday night – “Gold Glove out there, it surprised everybody.” – then you’ll see why this will be the toughest of his managerial career.

Collins is an apologist for Cespedes’ lack of effort and for Matt Harvey questioning his authority. But there’s so much more. There’s how he’ll limit David Wright‘s playing time, or more to the point, not knowing when he’ll have the third baseman available.

COLLINS: Facing his toughest challenge. (AP)

COLLINS: Facing his toughest challenge. (AP)

Cespedes is also a Mets’ wildcard in nobody knows how he’ll respond to the pressure of his $27.5-million contract. If Cespedes folds then Collins is again searching for offensive help, especially if Wright doesn’t hit.

Everybody raves about the Mets’ young pitching, but none of those arms – save Bartolo Colon – have won as many as 15 games. And, please, let’s not forget about the uncertainty of the bullpen.

The Mets are also counting on a breakout years from Michael Conforto and Steven Matz and a new double-play combination.

That’s a lot of variables placed pressure squarely on Collins’ shoulders. How he handles that pressure will go a long way towards where the Mets finish. However, perhaps most importantly is Collins has never had a team this talented. He’s never had a team that went to the World Series the previous season and with as many expectations like his 2016 Mets.

In his first years with the Mets, Collins had the security of having a bad team without a willingness to spend money. Those teams had no expectations and GM Sandy Alderson wasn’t going to sacrifice Collins as he tinkered with payroll and building this rotation. Managers of rebuilding teams having low expectations don’t get fired.

However, it’s different now. That security is gone. The expectations are high as is the pressure to win. And, pressure makes managers vulnerable. That’s why this will be his toughest year.

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Apr 04

Cespedes’ Explanation Insulting

Seeing Yoenis Cespedes’ comments about his misadventures in left field Opening Day served as a reminder most players don’t care as much as fans do. His explanation was insulting.

I don’t know what I expected Cespedes to say after he lackadaisically loped into position and casually reached for Mike Moustakas’ routine fly ball in the first inning. And, dropped it because he wouldn’t do the most fundamental thing, which is to use two !@#$% hands.

CESPEDES: ``I'm human.'' (AP)

CESPEDES: “I’m human.” (AP)

Every Little Leaguer knows to do that, but not Cespedes – and to be fair most Major Leaguers, either. Maybe they don’t think it’s the “cool’’ thing to do. Maybe they just don’t give a damn.

Cespedes’ comment was as half-assed as his effort three hours earlier: “The ball just fell out of my glove. The ball just fell. I’m human.’’

Fell? It fell because he was too lazy to use two hands; too stubborn to do one of the most fundamental things in his sport. Actually, in all fairness to Cespedes, it “fell” from his glove twice, the second when he attempted to pick it up with his glove. Another screw-up, as in a play like that you reach down with your throwing hand.

I guess Mets fans should be grateful he at least reached down to pick it up.

The play, Cespedes’ comments, and manager Terry Collins’ reaction is emblematic about what is wrong with professional sports these days.

First, there’s the player who doesn’t care enough to do his best then dismisses legitimate questions. Then, there’s the manager who is too timid to do anything about it. And, worse, defends the botched play. Don’t dare call out the player who is making $27.5 million.

Instead, Collins meekly said: “Gold Glove out there, it surprised everybody.”

I laughed because anybody who has been paying attention couldn’t be surprised.

Actually, the only person who came out of this looking good was the player victimized the most, with that being Matt Harvey.

Sure, Harvey had to be pissed – no pun intended – but he did the professional thing, which is to not publicly throw his teammate under the bus.

“It’s baseball. Things happen,’’ Harvey told reporters. “Nobody’s trying to do anything out there except to get outs and do everything we can to help the team. Errors happen. It’s part of the game.’’

So is using two hands.

ON DECK: Why this is Collins’ toughest job

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Apr 01

Matz Putting It Together At Right Time

The one pitching Met I was most concerned with appears to have pulled it together, and that’s Steven Matz, who pitched five hitless innings in an 8-1 rout of the Cubs that snapped a 14-game winless streak.

Matz struck out six and walked two, and there were no comments after questioning his stamina or conditioning.

“This is definitely a good way to go into the season,’’ Matz told reporters. “My slider was working and it’s definitely something I’m going to be using. I’m definitely getting to where I need to be.’’

However, “getting to,’’ isn’t exactly “being there,’’ and it should be pointed out starters are expected to work at least six innings and possibly seven in their final tune-up.

Matz threw 73 pitches, which won’t do in his first start. Meanwhile, Jacob deGrom threw 71 pitches in a minor league game in Port St. Lucie.

All Mets starters operated under a reduced workload in spring training. It took awhile for Matz to come around, but Matt Harvey had a miserable spring. Manager Terry Collins said he won’t be concerned until the games count, and that will be Sunday with Harvey.

After the game, the Mets finalized their Opening Day roster with Kevin Plawecki being the last position player and relievers Jim Henderson and Logan Verrett rounding out the staff.

Mar 30

Maybe Harvey’s Poor Spring Comes From Lack Of Work

Matt Harvey might not be pitching to midseason form, but his attitude has a July feel. Harvey’s poor pitching this spring continued Wednesday when he gave up a three-run homer to Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman, and after the game didn’t talk to reporters.

HARVEY: Had poor spring. (Getty)

HARVEY: Had poor spring. (Getty)

Reportedly, he didn’t like the coverage of his bladder treatment, and this is how he decided to handle it.

I’ll just say: If Harvey really wants to be considered an ace, then he needs to understand aces have a responsibility to talk with the media. And, if he’s as smart as he thinks he is, he had to know he would be asked how he felt considering his medical issue. It comes with the territory of being a star.

Real aces would understand. Anyway, Harvey has pitched like anything but a star.

His 1-2 record and 7.50 ERA is irrelevant. However, in 12 innings he’s given up 10 hits and nine walks for a 1.83 WHIP. Hitters are batting .302 against him. And, let’s not forget the six runs he gave up in a minor league game against the Cardinals.

“You can say whatever you want; it’s still spring training,” manager Terry Collins told reporters. “We’ll worry about how he throws the ball on Sunday night.”

So, what’s Harvey’s problem? All indications are his arm is fine, but he’s only pitched in four exhibition games. Normally, a starter would get six starts and work 30 innings. Perhaps, in an effort to protect Harvey, the Mets didn’t give him enough work.

Just a thought.