Jun 09

Matt Harvey, Mets Handle Injury Poorly; Wheeler’s Promotion Delayed

So much for Matt Harvey having composure beyond his years.

Harvey’s handling of his minor hip injury Saturday and the Mets’ subsequent response exceeds stupid on so many levels.

HARVEY: Leaves game with back tightness. (AP)

HARVEY: Leaves game with back tightness. (AP)

Harvey “tweaked’’ his back but didn’t tell anybody until after he singled in the seventh inning. So, he feels something is wrong, yet he still goes to the plate, where the act of swinging could do further damage?

There is no reason why he should be so reckless. His competitive nature is to be admired and respected, but his thinking here should be criticized. This is a June game with the Miami Marlins, and both teams aren’t going anywhere. There’s no good reason to take a risk.

Even worse, is the Mets letting him go out for his warm-up tosses after the inning before pulling him. Haven’t they learned when a pitcher has an injury that he’s supposed to be pulled immediately?

Any back or leg issue can lead to the altering of the mechanics and cause a residual effect on the arm.

Why take a chance?

And, please, the pitcher saying he’s fine is not an acceptable excuse.

Here’s hoping both Harvey and the Mets learned something.

Speaking of handling things poorly, Zack Wheeler’s “promotion’’ to the major leagues is being bungled.

After Wheeler’s lackluster effort Friday night, and opposing manager Howard Johnson’s lukewarm analysis, the Mets are delaying his debut.

Johnson, who knows a thing or two about pitching as he hammered it during his career with the Mets, did not give a high endorsement of Wheeler after watching him as the opposing team’s hitting coach.

The stuff is there, but the refinement is not.

There’s still work to be done, but the major leagues is not the place to do it. Wheeler needs more development, and to those who say promote him because the Mets are losing don’t get it. If he’s not ready, he won’t be doing much winning on this level.

Wheeler needs to be dominating in Triple-A and he clearly is not, and once he arrives it should be for good. But, I can’t see that now and the Mets are fooling themselves if they say he can.

Wheeler could become the star the Mets envision, but even if he does there will be games in which he takes his lumps. Why have him experience them now when he doesn’t have to?

It isn’t as if he’ll save a season that already looks lost.

Jun 08

Matt Harvey No Longer Sure Thing; Timing Suspect For Zack Wheeler

Remember when Matt Harvey was cruising and the talk was how great it would be if he got to start in the All-Star Game at Citi Field?

If it seems like a long time ago, that’s because it is. Harvey is 5-0, but there’s no longer the feeling of invincibility.

WHEELER: Is he ready?

WHEELER: Is he ready?

Harvey is coming off a four-run, 10-hit outing in which he lasted a pedestrian five innings. Outside that performance last week in Miami, Harvey is still giving the Mets innings, but he and the team have little to show for it as he’s had seven no-decisions in his last eight starts, with the Mets losing half those games.

He’s still the best the Mets have to offer, but the sense of the game being over when goes to the mound is gone for a variety of reasons, notably a pathetic offense and leaking bullpen. Simply, Harvey can’t do it by himself.

Of course, that makes me wonder about Zack Wheeler. The conventional thought process on promoting a stud prospect is the time is right when he starts to dominate, but that hasn’t been the case with Wheeler.

In theory, once promoted Wheeler will stay, but last night he didn’t make it through five innings for Triple-A Las Vegas. Wheeler has had flashes of what could be, but also shown us what we saw in Mike Pelfrey.

Reportedly, Wheeler is to start next Friday at Citi Field, but you can’t like the timing. Why give him a week to sit on the start and get tight? Why not spring it on him and let him go on adrenalin?

Either way could be fine or disastrous, but thinking about it for a week doesn’t seem like the best option, especially with how poorly the Mets are playing. As much as Terry Collins warned Wheeler isn’t the “savior,’’ the team is putting extraordinary pressure on him.

You would hope the Mets would put Wheeler in the best position to succeed, but there appears to be a lot of obstacles, beginning with the timing, and including the anticipation and how badly the team is going.

Is there ever a right time to bring up a prospect? Not really with a struggling franchise because of the lofty expectations. Perhaps Wheeler is ready for all this … I don’t know.

However, I wonder about the ramifications if he’s not ready. The Mets rushed prospects before with terrible results – Pelfrey and Jenrry Mejia to name a couple – and you’d hate to see it with Wheeler.

Another variable is how well Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee have pitched recently. Both have pitched well enough to stay in the rotation. If Jon Niese is physically ready to go Sunday, there doesn’t appear to be the need for Wheeler.

It looks as if the Mets are forcing this and that can’t be good.

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Jun 07

Mets Can’t Project Anything From Top Draft Pick Dominic Smith

There are a lot of things you can make of the Mets’ selection of high school first baseman Dominic Smith – all of 17 years old – with the 11th overall pick in the draft.

The first is the obvious, that the Mets are no longer enamored with Ike Davis, but that’s the knee-jerk response. However, remember Smith, at 17, has to be at least three to four years away.

SMITH: Mets' future at first? (MLB)

SMITH: Mets’ future at first? (MLB)

It isn’t as if Smith was the No. 1 overall pick with the can’t-miss status of Bryce Harper.

At least, if you’re using the Mets’ recent drafts of position players as indicators, don’t expect Smith at Citi Field any time soon. By that time, Davis might have figured out his swing.

Mets scouting director Tommy Tanous said Smith’s swing reminds him of Rafael Palmeiro and Will Clark. Speaking of great swings, I would have thought Tanous might have mentioned Keith Hernandez.

“It’s a traditional swing as far as his hands work very well,’’ Tanous said. “This is as ‘handsy’ a hitter as you’re going to find. He can get his hands to the ball and get inside the ball as well as anybody I’ve seen as an amateur.

“He can actually be caught out front of some balls, be out ahead of the ball, and still barrel the baseball. It’s an extremely smooth swing. His legs stay under him. His head never moves. It’s really, really a flawless bat path once he gets to the ball.’’

If Smith could have remotely the career of Clark, Palmeiro or Hernandez, the Mets would have done very well.

For his part, Smith said all the right things without the braggadocio from the Jets’ pick of quarterback Geno Smith.

“That’s a great compliment,’’ Smith said. “Hopefully I can live up to it, or just live up to the best Dominic Smith I can be. And hopefully I can help the Mets win a World Series.’’

That’s all well and good, but the success rate of baseball draft picks is less projectable than those in the NFL and NBA, and it’s not as if there aren’t a lot of busts in those sports, too.

I’m not saying Smith will be a bust or not, just that the draft is a crapshoot and it is far too soon to predict anything.

METS SHOULD BAG TONIGHT: The forecast tonight isn’t good for tonight’s game against Miami, which is a Matt Harvey start.

They don’t want to waste it by having him begin the game and then potentially sit through a long rain delay.

The side benefit would be not having the fans sit through the lousy weather, unlike those who sat through four hours in a recent Kansas City-St. Louis game.

The Marlins will be in later this year so it would be easy to reschedule.

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

Jun 05

After Sleeping On It: Mets Should Deal Shaun Marcum

Conventional wisdom has either Jeremy Hefner or Dillon Gee losing their rotation spot when Zack Wheeler is promoted.

Why just them?

MARCUM: Time to trade him. (AP)

MARCUM: Time to trade him. (AP)

After sleeping on it, considering Hefner’s strong start in Washington last night, my choice would be to deal Shaun Marcum.

Marcum has gone six-plus innings in his last four starts to show signs he’s coming around physically. Of the three, Marcum has been the least effective, but his name isn’t mentioned because he’s making $4 million.

Marcum threw a strong six innings against the Marlins until he unraveled in the seventh. But, if you’re a contender trying to fill out the back end of your rotation, you’d be happy with six innings.

Realistically, the Mets might have to delay this decision until they get a read on Jon Niese’s sore shoulder. Niese will throw today, but if he’s not ready he could miss another start or go on the disabled list.

However, should Niese be fine, I’m still for dealing Marcum, and economics are part of the reason as his salary would be palatable to a team looking to add. On a side note, I couldn’t help but laugh when I read where the Mets might be buyers in July. Have they not been watching this team?

Terry Collins said it best when he told reporters in Washington about Wheeler: “He’s not going to be the savior. There are a lot of pieces that have to work. One guy is not going to turn this around, of course. It takes 25.’’

Yes, it does. We could go on for hours discussing the Mets’ weaknesses and needs, but for the sake of this argument, let’s keep it to the rotation.

Matt Harvey and Niese, assuming the latter is healthy, are safe. The way Hefner and Gee are pitching, they could attract interest, but have manageable salaries, something the Mets covet. If either are dealt, that opens another hole.

Marcum, meanwhile, is gone after this season. If Wheeler proves he’s ready, there would be no reason to entertain bringing Marcum back, so strike when the iron is at least lukewarm to see what they can get.

Hefner and Gee are worth keeping.

Hefner was brilliant Tuesday night in another hard-luck no-decision, one of four he’s had while throwing a quality start. He had another in a loss. Overall, he’s given the Mets at least six innings in seven of his last eight starts.

The Mets would be ecstatic to get that from Wheeler.

Gee hasn’t been as sharp, but is coming off his best start of the season last week against the Yankees when he gave up one run in seven innings. Overall, the Mets have won four of his last six starts, so he must be doing something right. Gee worked six innings or better in 13 of 17 starts last season, so there’s a track record of productivity.

Keep Hefner and Gee, who might be valuable in the future and deal Marcum, who’ll be a one-year Met at best.

ON DECK: Mets Matters notebook.

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

Jun 03

Reflections Of A Lost Weekend For Mets In Miami

In the back of our collective minds, after winning four straight from the Yankees, who wasn’t surprised to see the Mets get beat up in Miami?

I thought they’d get a better showing from Matt Harvey, but other than that, nothing shocking really. Harvey was off his game, but had a chance to win if not for the bullpen, which reverted to pre-Yankees form. The offense continues to sputter.

 

DAVIS: Not excited by homer.

DAVIS: Not excited by homer.

Scott Rice was due for a stinker, which makes me wonder why Terry Collins would let him stay in to give up FOUR walks. Once a reliever gives up two walk, plus a hit, it is time to pull the plug. What was Collins waiting for?

Harvey’s no-decisions are starting to pile up which is a two-fold reflection on the bullpen and offense. I realize the Mets’ offense has been sucking wind lately, but friend Michael Baron put it in perspective: In 27 games in May, the Mets scored a mere 88 runs with a .222 batting average and .286 on-base percentage. That was second worse in the majors for the month.

It all can’t be pinned on Ike Davis, although he does get a large share of the blame. Speaking of Davis, he had two hits, including a home run Sunday. Please, under no circumstances, should the Mets consider hitting him higher than seventh. Let him stay there for a while until he shows real breakout signs. One game is not enough to assume anything about Davis. Certainly, he proved that after his RBI hit against the Yankees and two-homer game against the Dodgers.

Davis is not high on my Mets Concern Meter because frankly, he’s hit rock bottom. There’s no place to go but up, or Triple-A Vegas for him. I suppose I should forget about the minors because if the Mets haven’t done it by now they probably won’t ever.

On another sad offense note, Lucas Duda homered, giving him ten and 20 RBI on the season. In contrast, the Orioles’ Chris Davis hit his 20th homer Sunday. By the way, he has 52 RBI to go along with them. Duda’s HR-RBI is laughable. It shows pitchers are working around him with runners on base.

One of the biggest issues swirling around the Mets is who should go to make room for Zack Wheeler. The Mets are delaying Wheeler’s promotion for Super Two reasons, which is fine by me.

But, is he ready? Is he dominating on the Triple-A level to warrant the jump? I’m not sure, regardless of what Wally Backman might say. One thing I am sure of is Wheeler won’t make much of a difference as far as this year is concerned. Bringing up Wheeler won’t change all that is hurting this club. How will he help the bullpen? How will he help the outfield? How will he help the offense?

As far as who should go, the speculation is between Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee, with Shaun Marcum being excluded from the conversation because he’s a veteran making $4 million.

So?

The Mets must realize they aren’t going to be a contender this season, so what they should be doing is shopping Marcum to see what they can get. It won’t be a lot, but Marcum is gone after this year so why not? He’s had moments where he pitched well, Friday night for example before one bad inning.

The Mets are off today, which has an old joke resurfacing about what are their best days. They are in Washington tomorrow to start a series that lost a lot of edge with the Mets getting trounced. The Nationals aren’t playing well now and will be without Bryce Harper and possibly Stephen Strasburg.

 

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