Mar 15

Harvey Will Be Back Sooner Than You Think

I was holding off on this post to see whether or not Mets pitching prospect Matt Harvey would survive the first official round of spring training cuts. He didn’t. But that’s okay, and for those of you that were hoping to see at least another start from this unbelievably talented pitcher, take solace in the fact that he’ll be back and it could be sooner than you think.

Harvey went out with a bang yesterday as he dazzled onlookers who gathered to catch a glimpse of the Mets phenom in action. J.P. Ricciardi, Sandy Alderson and even Jeff Wilpon were all on hand to see Harvey blaze through a team of Mets Minor League hitters while lighting up the radar gun with speeds of 95-96 MPH.

When all was said and done, the Mets 2010 First Rounder struck out eight batters over five scoreless innings of work, thus ending his first big league camp with a resounding performance.

“I wasn’t trying to throw it as hard as I can,” Harvey said. “I was just trying to hit spots and work on my stuff, and it felt pretty good.”

It’s not clear what lies ahead for Matt Harvey just yet, but I’d expect him to start the season at Double-A Binghamton, with a quick promotion to Triple-A Buffalo if he dominates in the first month of the season.

Once Harvey gets to Buffalo, all eyes will be fixed on how he handles the best the International League has to offer. Continued dominance will only hasten his arrival to Citi Field where he will ultimately make his Major League debut at some point this season.

Harvey has already made quite an impression on everyone who has been lucky enough to see him or brave enough to stand in against him in the batters box. Perhaps there’s no more fitting a way to end this post, but to recant what future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones had to say after meekly grounding out on Harvey’s improved two-seamer last Friday. “Where did you get this guy?” Jones said. “He’s throwing bowling balls up there.”

Ohhh man, you just gotta love this game sometimes. :-)

Mar 06

About last night and other thoughts

Yes, the Mets lost last night and we’ll see more of that this spring and summer. Even so, there were several things to take out of the game.

Pitching is traditionally ahead of the hitting at this stage, so it’s hard to measure last night’s performance by Dillon Gee and others. Gee looked comfortable in his two innings. What we saw was a lot better than the alternative, which we’ve seen a lot of in the past few springs.

Matt Harvey pitched two scoreless innings, but was all over the place with walks and hitting a batter. Nerves, no doubt.

HARVEY: Threw hard, but wild last night.

Offensively, there wasn’t much to speak about, but two things stood out for me. The first was Andres Torres getting on base. He won’t make things happen on the bases like Jose Reyes, but if he’s on he’ll score.

I also enjoyed watching the Mets run and attempt to push things. As we’ve learned, the power won’t always be there so there is the need to manufacture runs. Theoretically, during the season five steals should translate into more than one run.

Continue reading

Dec 14

Niese Rumors Continue To Swirl

Site Note: I’m sorry to inform you that John Delcos’ father passed away a few days ago. He’ll be away for a couple of more days. My condolences to John and his family during this difficult time.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the trade buzz surrounding starting pitcher Jon Niese is getting louder and that at least 3 or 4 teams are currently interested in acquiring the young southpaw from the Mets.

“If the package is right, the Mets will deal him,” writes Heyman.

The Mets are believed to be looking for a young pitcher (like Niese?) and a catching prospect in return.

If the Mets have a price established for Niese, it means he’s on the block.

This goes beyond the old adage of “nobody should be untouchable”, although it seems David Wright certainly is for now.

Last week, Joel Sherman of the New York Post mentioned the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox as teams that would certainly be in the hunt for Jon Niese.

My question is this:

If you are serious in your assertion that you are working toward building a relevant team in 2014, why would you trade such a promising left-handed starter who will be just 27-years old and entering his prime years by that time?

Niese, 25, would seem to be a Met you’d tab as a keeper at this point, and when teams like the Yankees and Red Sox want in, it should give the front office some pause to ask themselves why?

Among all the starters in the current rotation (Johan, Dickey, Pelfrey, Niese, Gee), what pitchers stands out as a potential building block for 2014?

Are we seriously going along with this plan of putting all our eggs in one basket with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jeurys Famila who each have yet to have any success beyond Double-A and in the case of Wheeler, Single-A? Is this really the master plan?

You would think a talented pitcher like Niese, who remains under team control for another four years, would be the last player that would be on the Mets’ trading block.

Right now, Niese is the only young pitcher in the organization who has proved himself to be a quality major league pitcher, while the other three are longshots at best and still have a ways to go before proclaiming either of them as such.

I don’t like the smell of this one bit. If anything, the Mets should be locking Niese up through his arbitration years like they did with David Wright and Jose Reyes what seems like eons ago.

 

Nov 11

Why you’ll never get the complete truth from the Mets.

For many, our first impression was one of openness and honesty. When Sandy Alderson was introduced as general manager he spoke of wanting to win, yet said there would be difficult times. He gave hope things would be different in the new regime.

There seemed to be an honesty about him absent from previous Mets management and the current ownership. You wanted to trust him.

While Alderson is on point, it is still not his team, and despite their stated intentions of giving him the resources, the Wilpons continue to play it close to the vest financially. This is a tentative time for the Mets because they still need to sell tickets and don’t want to risk alienating the on-the-fence fans by telling them the real team will appear in 2015, if not later.

Watching the Mets now is akin to going to the movies and getting two hours worth of previews before the feature. And, maybe not even getting the feature.

There are two types of fans. There is blind loyalty that will remain passionate for their team and support it regardless. Since 1962, there’s been more losing than winning, but the Mets continue to hold those fans as they are forever.

Their interest might turn to discouragement and frustration, but if they have the money they will find their way to Citi Field as they did Shea Stadium. They will listen on the radio and watch on TV. They will absorb every written word from the major media vehicles to the blogs. They will talk Mets to anybody who will listen, because, after all, they are Mets fans and that’s what they do.

The Mets know they have a core following. If they came out and said this will take time, more than we expected, that base will remain steadfast.

Then there is the fair weather variety, which come in various forms. They come out when it is convenient, or the weather is nice, or the team is winning, or they get free tickets, or that night’s Law and Order is a repeat, or the other team is the Yankees.

They know who Jose Reyes is and believe he is the Mets and the franchise can’t  exist without him. They think the same of David Wright. They thought it of Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and Tom Seaver. Players come and go, but the team remains. Their fancy is caught by the shiny star, much like a child with a new toy.

The flexible fans weigh the cost of a Citi Field experience to that of a Broadway play, a trip to the beach, a night out in Manhattan, the movies, or any thing else that might attract their fickle dollar.

They are flexible because they bend to the prevailing wind. As the great movie line goes, they “can’t handle the truth.” If they knew the Mets were three or four years from serious contention, they would tell you to leave them a wake-up call. These fans aren’t interested in rebuilding and don’t care about Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey being three years from Flushing. They don’t care about building because Reyes is the here and now.

The Mets care most about these fans, as do all sports teams, because they don’t yet have their money. The Mets know the loyal will pay; they are givens to be taken for granted. It’s the others, who haven’t yet laid out the cash, they are chasing.

Alderson can’t be honest with them because to do so is to tell them there’s no compelling reason to come to the park other than to buy into the dream of the future, which they won’t as they haven’t made an emotional investment. To do so would be to chase them away.

To these fans, the truth is poison.

Nov 04

Reyes’ departure could deter future FA signings for Mets.

It is easy to recognize what losing Jose Reyes might mean to the Mets on the field: they would be without an impact leadoff hitter, steal threat and solid defensive shortstop.

I’m on record as saying the Mets won’t be able to retain him and shouldn’t get reeled in on a long-term deal. In signing Reyes long-term, the Mets are subject to the very real chance he’ll break down physically and won’t be able to duplicate last season’s walk-year production.

I still feel that way, but there is another way to interpret the potential of losing Reyes, and that is in future free-agent markets. It is something the Mets should strongly consider.

If the Mets let one of their cornerstones depart, how would free-agents in the 2012 markets and beyond interpret that decision? If the Mets cant’s hold on to one of their own, how would they treat a newcomer? And, considering the Mets’ recent history of handling injured players (Ryan Church and Carlos Beltran), what could they be thinking about Reyes the past three years, especially since it is well known Jerry Manuel rushed him back two years ago?

Players talk, believe me, and the Mets don’t have a stellar reputation among the MLB Players Association. Sure, there will be players toward the end of their careers and who have been injured that would be willing to take the Mets’ money, but any impact players will undoubtedly have second thoughts. As it is, if Reyes leaves, David Wright could be next out the door. He has more than hinted as such.

Let’s face it, the Mets can never compete with the Yankees in dollars for free agents, and they can not in terms of tradition or a winning reputation. The last prime time player they signed of significance was Beltran, and even at the end agent Scott Boras tried a last attempt with the Yankees. There is a belief Beltran chose the Mets because they are less in the limelight than the Yankees.

Citi Field isn’t the magnet for free-agents the team might have hoped, but we have to believe that is more to do with the Wilpon’s financial situation than anything else, including the stadium’s cavernous dimensions.

Alderson said the team wouldn’t “punt” in 2012, but it doesn’t forecast to a busy winter. And, the team is at least two years from being a legitimate contender. It could be even longer if their financial situation persists, if prospects Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler don’t pan out. and Wright leaves. The Wilpons have gotten better news on that front, but are not in the clear. And, there are never any guarantees when it comes to prospects.

The Mets flirted with .500 this season when Reyes was healthy, and there’s reason to believe they could take a step if their pitching improved. There’s also no reason to believe the Mets will spend in that direction.

I don’t know where the Mets are going to be should Reyes leave, or where they would be if he stays and their pitching doesn’t get better. But, if he leaves and the Mets don’t throw significant money in improving that staff, the future doesn’t look good and there will be fewer mercenaries willing to help.