Jan 25

Have Mets Really Changed Their Medical Philosophy?

It was interesting to hear how GM Sandy Alderson overhauled the Mets’ medical staff, but then I remembered that was something both he and COO Jeff Wilpon vowed they would do when Alderson was hired in October of 2010.

However, that, like several other Mets’ promises when unfulfilled.

HARVEY: Personifies Mets' handling of injuries.(AP)

HARVEY: Personifies Mets’ handling of injuries.(AP)

How the Mets have handled injuries has long been a source of angst for fans and players of the franchise, and here’s hoping Jim Cavallini and Brian Chicklo have an uneventful tenure heading up the on-field medical staff.

However, in looking at some of the Mets’ most recent paralyzing injuries, a bulk of the responsibility falls with Alderson and the players themselves.

Among the most significant:

David Wright: In 2011, Wright played a month with a stress fracture in his lower back. Wright must assume some responsibility for trying to gut it out, but Alderson needs to share in this, too, for not insisting on an MRI earlier. We’ll never know how things might have been different for Wright had this been handled differently,

Jose Reyes: In 2010, Reyes sustained an injury to his right side in batting practice, June 30, and misses six games. As has been a tendency under Alderson, Reyes in rushed back and aggravates the injury, July 10 and is out for ten days. The Mets foolishly believe the All-Star break is enough time, and bring him back July 20. He is reinjured a month later and doesn’t return until Sept. 10.

Matt Harvey: The essence of the Mets’ bumbling of injuries began in 2013 with Harvey. Off to a fantastic start and facing the prospect of starting the All-Star Game at Citi Field, Harvey ignored tightness in his right forearm. Harvey – much to the delight of the Mets’ brass – started and starred in the All-Star Game, but was eventually shut down and went on the disabled list.

Harvey then got into a spitting match with Alderson about surgery and when to do his rehab. Then, after missing the entire 2014 season, Harvey and Alderson then clashed on an innings limit. Finally, last spring, Alderson ignored a warning from then-pitching coach Dan Warthen that Harvey wouldn’t be full strength until late May and rushed him back. We know what happened next.

Had Harvey not hid his sore forearm in 2013, and the Mets not shut him down at the All-Star break, there’s no telling how things might have unfolded differently.

Yoenis Cespedes: The Mets foolishly gave Cespedes a four-year, $110-million contract, then gave him carte blanche to become a bodybuilder. Despite a history of injuries, Cespedes strained his left hamstring last year. Then, as their offense went up in smoke, they rushed him back and he tore the hamstring and was limited to less than 90 games played.

Noah Syndergaard: As they did with Harvey, the Mets gave into Syndergaard. First, they let him become muscle bound in the offseason, then let him get away with not getting an MRI. Syndergaard subsequently tore his lat muscle in an early-season game at Washington and was lost for the year.

“I can’t tie him down and throw him in the tube,’’ is the quote that identifies Alderson’s regime. Alderson then said there was nothing the MRI would have shown that could have prevented the tear. Seriously, he said that.

The above five injuries were attributable to giving the players too much latitude and for Alderson not being the adult in the room. Unless those two variables change, it doesn’t matter who the new trainer is.

Jan 23

Mets Continue To Overplay Their Hand Since 2015 Series

Mets COO Jeff Wilpon can try to spin his payroll anyway he chooses but it comes down to one simple fact: Declaring you want to win and doing what it takes to do so are two different things.

“We certainly want to win,’’ Wilpon told reporters today at Citi Field. “There’s nobody going there trying not to win and not do their best to put us in the absolute best position to win.’’

The Mets’ payroll last year was $155 million and they finished 22 games under .500. It was $135 million in 2016 and $101 million in 2015 when they reached the World Series.

That last year, their Series rotation of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz earned a combined $2.18 million, the odds of repeating which fall into the catch-lightning-in-a-bottle category. That is just plain lucky.

Wilpon said he’s not interested in the Mets being a top-five team in payroll, something we’ve known for years. Instead, he said the Mets are concerned with wins and losses.

The problem when looking at things that way is it reduces 2015 to a fluke season, something the Mets have been riding the past two years.

The following four things conspired to put the Mets into the Series that year:

  • Because of injuries and poor performances, the Nationals had a miserable season in 2015 which gave the Mets their opening.
  • The Mets caught lightning that summer with the Yoenis Cespedes trade. Cespedes had a historic six weeks that propelled them into the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, the Mets tried to parlay that trade with a $110-million, four-year contract that will set them back for years.
  • There was their sterling rotation mentioned earlier. Also, unfortunately for the Mets, that rotation hasn’t stayed healthy, and including the fifth member, Zack Wheeler, those five have yet to make a complete turn.
  • That postseason will always be remembered for Daniel Murphy’s blitz through the National League playoffs. Without it, maybe the Mets don’t get past the Dodgers in the Division Series. Unfortunately, the Mets played hardball with Murphy and let him escape to Washington as a free agent.

While it’s never a bad thing to reach the World Series, a case can be made the Mets overplayed their hand and overestimated just how good they were that season and have been paying for it since.

From signing Cespedes to letting Murphy go to overestimating their rotation it has been one bad decision after another.

Jan 08

This Is What I Hope For From The Mets

It’s ten degrees outside and there’s a foot of snow outside and the Mets, of course, are doing nothing for me to take my mind off of what has been the most dismal of winters. They’ve done nothing to encourage hope for this summer. Seriously, they’ve done zero to make me feel optimistic about the season, but that doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to Opening Day and the six months following.

It will be baseball season, and for that alone, I’m anxious to see what happens. While the future is a mystery, what I want to see unfold is another thing. Here’s what I’m rooting for:

* For Mickey Callaway to get it early and miss the bumps that derail most first-year managers.

* That Dave Eiland‘s off-season throwing program produces some immediate and tangible results.

* That David Wright‘s recovery program takes. To see him charge and barehand a slow roller and fire a seed to first, then come to the plate a line a gapper to right-center and leg out a double.

* I can’t wait to see Jacob deGrom go nine. Hell, I hope he goes nine lots of times and this year he wins 20 and starts the All-Star Game. Basically, I’d like to find out if he can still pitch with the new haircut.

* That Noah Syndergaard‘s lat gives him zero problems and he pitches the way comic book heroes are supposed to pitch.

* That all that I’ve heard this winter are true. That Matt Harvey is in great shape. I’ve never cared to hear about what supermodels he is dating, but that he’s happy. Seriously, I do.

* That Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler come back sound, and the Fabulous Five make it through the cycle at least once. Maybe two or three times.

* That GM Sandy Alderson’s trades last year for bullpen help pay off and some of these arms pan out.

* That maybe Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki form a productive platoon.

* That Dominic Smith shows up in shape and hits line drives.

* For Asdrubal Cabrera plays a solid second, or third. Hopefully at second and the Mets find their third baseman in Wright. I can’t help it, I like the guy and hope he makes it back.

* For Amed Rosario to hit .300 and steal 30 bases.

* For Yoenis Cespedes to prove me wrong … stay healthy and hit 35 dingers.

* For the bulked-up Juan Lagares hits up to his glove.

* Michael Conforto‘s shoulder to hold up and he comes back soon and he posts MVP-type numbers. Big ones.

Of course, I would love to see the Mets win the World Series, obviously against the Yankees. But, I would settle for them to be competitive and play the way we all hope.

Dec 20

Mets Might As Well Keep Harvey

I have advocated the Mets trade Matt Harvey for several years now and still believe if they should jump on any worthwhile trade offer. I just think those ideas are gone and he’s not going anywhere because his trade value has never been lower and the Mets have their reasons for wanting to keep him.

HARVEY: Why not the pen? (AP)

HARVEY: No option but to keep him. (AP)

Harvey’s value is down because he hasn’t pitched well in two years, because of a combination of injuries and simply stinking up the joint. A shoulder injury sapped his velocity as well as his command and movement. With the decline in all three, his confidence has been shot since Game 5 of the 2015 World Series when he selfishly lobbied manager Terry Collins to stay in for the ninth.

Harvey is damaged goods. Teams won’t give up established talent or promising prospects for somebody who’ll be a free agent after the 2018 season. It just won’t happen.

Even so, the Mets have to keep Harvey because of the health concerns surrounding Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman and even Noah Syndergaard. The Mets’ vaunted rotation hasn’t yet – over five years – made a complete cycle, and won’t again this season because either Matz or Wheeler won’t be ready by Opening Day.

Somebody will go down for the Mets this summer. It’s the way of the world and Harvey will have to fill the void. The Mets aren’t likely to sign a veteran arm this winter so they’ll need Harvey.

The Mets’ best chance to get something for Harvey is for him to get off to a strong – and healthy – start and trade him in late July. After that, well, I still believe Harvey will walk after next season.

 

Dec 01

Mets Tender Contracts To Nine

As expected, the Mets tendered 2018 contracts to all nine of their arbitration-eligible players today. The list includes four of their projected starters and two back-end relievers.

Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler were offered contracts, as were Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Hansel Robles, catcher Travis d’Arnaud and infielder Wilmer Flores.

This action ensures these players will play for the Mets next season. Any arbitration-eligible player tendered to a contract must either accept the offer or go through an arbitration hearing.

All nine are expected to go through the arbitration process.