Sep 07

Thoughts On Amazing Day

If there is one word to describe the 2015 Mets, for me it would be resiliency. There have been numerous times this season when they could have fallen off the ledge, but found a way to get it done – which is the essence of any championship team.

From a multitude of injuries, including losing David Wright for nearly five months to a near two-month slump to a leaky bullpen to the circus around the trade deadline to the current mess pertaining to Matt Harvey‘s innings, it has been a wild ride. Today’s 8-5 come-from-behind victory in Washington capsulized the season in a wild three hours.

WRIGHT: Slides home in the seventh. (Getty)

WRIGHT: Slides home in the seventh. (Getty)

When Max Scherzer escaped a no-outs, runner-on-third threat in the first it looked like a bad omen for the Mets. However, momentum turned on solo homers by Michael Conforto – who, by the way, needs to play against all kinds of pitching, Kelly Johnson and Yoenis Cespedes, this would be a day to remember.

However, it would be an unforgettable day on the down side when the Nationals roughed up Jon Niese, including with Wilson Ramos‘ grand slam. Scherzer would settle down, but the Mets persevered. And, when Jeurys Familia blew away Ryan Zimmerman to end the game and make we wonder if Bryce Harper still doesn’t care about what’s going on with the Mets these days.

Here’s what I’ll take from today’s game, or as Collins said, Game 1 of the September playoffs:

TERRY COLLINS: He needs to sharpen his motivational skills. When you have a pitcher like Niese, whose confidence is shaken, you don’t tell him “this is the game of your life.” What manager does that? Niese’s confidence is peanut brittle tough as it is so you don’t apply additional pressure. Furthermore, your team has lost two games recently in walk-off fashion, but it still had a four-game lead heading into the series. So, Collins applied even more pressure. What’s the purpose? On a positive note, give Collins points for starting Johnson at second.

DAVID WRIGHT: He showed his captaincy mettle when he talked to Harvey for four innings Sunday in Miami. He underscored it in bold Sunday when he drove in the game-winning run and scored in the seventh. This guy is a winner. If anybody deserves this, it is him.

YOENIS CESPEDES: You don’t think he’ll get some MVP votes? If there was an MVP award for a late-season acquisition he would get it hands down. Cespedes will cost money, but he’s worth bringing back. With Curtis Granderson‘s contract up in two years and one more for Michael Cuddyer, there will be |money. Plus, I never bought the Mets’ cries of poverty.

BRYCE HARPER: Whether he cares what’s going on with the Mets or not is irrelevant. What matters is what he thinks of Nationals’ fans. For him to rip his fans for leaving early, it shows his head isn’t in the game and he’s looking for excuses. There aren’t many clearer signs the Nationals are showing signs of cracking. The teams have five games remaining, and the Nationals need to win them all.

MATT HARVEY/SANDY ALDERSON: If you’re scoring at home, the early rounds go to Harvey, who’ll make two or three more starts and not the four the Mets want. Alderson had a deer-in-the-headlights look when he spoke about Harvey prior to the game. What is clear is the Mets don’t have control over their diva pitcher as they have caved to his demands on nearly every turn.

Harvey wants to be limited during the September, but pitch in the playoffs. That could limit his effectiveness in October. Alderson wouldn’t say how much Harvey might pitch in the playoffs. Then, when faced with not having Harvey for two or more starts in September, Alderson doesn’t bring up Dillon Gee. Here’s a guy, Gee, who has done everything – and generally produced – the organization has asked, yet when they need another starter they ignored him. Rather shabby on Alderson’s part. Harvey pitches Tuesday and he damn well better produce. If he gets ripped and misses some starts and the Mets start falter, he’ll hear some boos next time he pitches at Citi Field.

THE BULLPEN: Today it threw 5.2 scoreless innings in relief of Niese. The bad news is they’ll lose Carlos Torres indefinitely with a pulled calf muscle. With Harvey’s innings uncertain, they could use a long man. It was sterling today, simply sterling. And, I’ve noted this before. Familia is the team’s MVP. That is, if Cespedes hasn’t moved ahead. One thing for certain, it isn’t Harvey.

JON NIESE:  Evidently, Niese’s wife didn’t wear her lucky panties. Today marked the 175th start of Niese’s career, and as Collins and SNY emphasized, it was his most important and he spit the bit. In parts of eight seasons, Niese is 60-61 and never has won more than 13 in a single season. Frankly, I’m thinking this might be as good as it gets for Niese. The Mets were wise to try to trade him last winter. They’ll increase those efforts this offseason.


Sep 06

If Dispute Not Resolved, Mets Should Explore Trading Harvey

It’s too late for the Mets to do what they should have done with Matt Harvey, but the timing might be right for them to do what they now should do.

Torched, and rightfully so, by the New York media for his comments that suggested only 14 innings were left in his season, Harvey, posted on Derek Jeter‘s website Sunday he would indeed pitch for the Mets should they reach the postseason.

HARVEY: Credibility in doubt. (MLB)

HARVEY: Credibility in doubt. (MLB)

“As an athlete, when your surgeon explains to you the risks of exceeding a certain number of innings, it can be alarming,” Harvey wrote. “You listen. I love to play baseball, and I love winning even more. I would not give that up for anything. I also know I want to be able to play and win for a long time.

“But there has never been a doubt in my mind: I will pitch in the playoffs. I will be healthy, active and ready to go. I am communicating with my agent, my doctor, [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] and the entire Mets organization. I can assure everyone that we’re all on the same page.”

We shall see.

I’d like to give Harvey the benefit of doubt, but his recent track record for believability isn’t strong.

Harvey’s next start is Tuesday – as he repeated ad nauseam Saturday – and if he and GM Sandy Alderson aren’t on the same page by the time he takes the mound, the Mets should take a hard line, aggressive stance with their diva. It should also be noted that if Harvey sides with Alderson, he would be going against agent Scott Boras and Dr. James Andrews.

I’m not sure Harvey is ready to take that stance.

If Harvey and the Mets don’t work things out and the innings limit remains at 180, Alderson should make it clear the pitcher will make his next start in five days and then tell him to disappear to remove the specter of his distraction.

Harvey’s comments Saturday regarding Boras made it clear his intent is to not leave a dollar on the table. At least, that’s his impression.

I never believed Harvey would re-sign with the Mets when he becomes a free agent in three years and still don’t. This flap might assure that scenario. So, if Harvey gets his 180 innings and is proclaimed healthy, considering he has a reasonable salary and the Mets’ starting depth, it might be time to explore the trade market.

Sep 05

Harvey Not Blameless In Mess

On a day Matt Harvey was in the process of possibly letting down his Mets teammates, they were picking up their diva pitcher. As Harvey let the Mets and their fans twist in the wind about the number of innings he’ll throw this season, the Mets and Bartolo Colon were rocking the Marlins Saturday night.

Harvey said the politically correct thing about concentrating on Tuesday’s start in Washington and added:  “As far as being out there, being with my teammates and playing, I’m never going to want to stop.”

HARVEY: Diva not blameless. (AP)

HARVEY: Diva not blameless. (AP)

However, the stop sign is set at 180 innings and Harvey has already thrown 166.1. Harvey reiterated agent Scott Boras’ comments from Friday his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, had set a limit for him.

Presumably, Andrews set this limit entering the season, which would mean the Mets and Harvey knew all along. Given that, why wouldn’t the Mets come up with a defined plan and why would Harvey fight the Mets on the six-man rotation and push at times during the season to pitch when the prudent thing would have been to rest him?

However, that question suggests Andrews came up with this number recently. When asked numerous times this season, neither Harvey nor the Mets acknowledged the limit confirmed Saturday, with less than a month remaining in the season.

“I’m the type of person, I never want to put the ball down,” Harvey told reporters. “Obviously I hired Scott, my agent, and went with Dr. Andrews as my surgeon because I trusted them to keep my career going and keep me healthy. As far as the surgeon and my agent having my back and kind of looking out for the best of my career, they’re obviously speaking their mind about that.”

It must be noted the interests of Boras and Andrews don’t coincide with that of the Mets.

Meanwhile, the Mets are saying Harvey will make four more starts and work a “reasonable” number of postseason innings. However, they have not defined “reasonable.” Also, Harvey would not say if he would exceed 180 innings or would be around for the postseason.

However, in an incredible amount of hubris, Harvey said: “The biggest thing is getting us to where we need to be. I’m thrilled that we’re into this conversation because that means I’m healthy and pitching and had a lot of innings throughout the year.”

Harvey said he spoke with Andrews and his agent, but not whether he spoke with Mets GM Sandy Alderson. Reportedly, that will occur Monday in Washington.

“Dr. Andrews said his limit was 180,” Harvey said. “That’s what Scott, or Dr. Andrews had said. But, for me, I’ve got 166 innings. I don’t know any much more than what I have to do Tuesday. And that’s go out and beat the Nationals.”

How about winning the NL East? Or, how about pitching in the postseason? Harvey didn’t mention either of those things.

Harvey dodged all relevant questions. and instead threw out the same old cliches.

“Like I said, I’m going out Tuesday to try to beat the Nationals,” Harvey said. “That’s our focus right now. I’ve stayed out of it. … I’ve heard both sides. I’ve heard different sides all along. My job as an athlete and as a player and as part of this team is to concentrate on one start at a time.”

One start at a time? What nonsense. Stayed out of it? Please, even more nonsense.

He stayed out of it by squawking about innings and pitch counts? He stayed out of it by pushing to pitch when he was ill and should of rested? He stayed out of it by pushing to stay in games when he should have been pulled? He stayed out of it by complaining about the six-man rotation, which was designed to protect him?

When Andrews came up with 180 innings isn’t sure, but Harvey said it had been “awhile” that it had been reached. Whenever it was, Harvey shouldn’t have done anything this year that would conflict with efforts to conserve his innings, but he clearly did.

No question the Mets mishandled this by bowing down to their diva’s demands, but a major reason why your team could be without Harvey soon is because of the pitcher himself.

If Harvey were as smart and the team player he proclaims to be, the Mets wouldn’t be in this position. They also wouldn’t be in this mess if Alderson if he stood up to the temperamental Harvey.

However, in trying to keep a positive focus on things, if Harvey isn’t available for the postseason, that will leave him time to watch the Rangers’ preseason. I mean, that’s what’s important, right?

Sep 04

Mets’ Spat With Boras Over Harvey Expected

Who can really be surprised the Mets and agent Scott Boras are at odds over Matt Harvey? In this case, I’d love to tell you I told you so, but I told you so.

Word predictably surfaced this week Boras told the Mets to shut down his client at 180 innings, which is 13.2 less than he has now. Why is Boras throwing out a number? Quite simply because Mets GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins – in all their wisdom – failed to do so at the start of the season and instead decided to go with monitoring his innings with a “play it by ear” format.

BORAS: In dispute with Mets. (AP)

BORAS: In dispute with Mets over Harvey. (Getty).

Reportedly, Boras contacted Alderson with his demands the end of last month. Alderson should tell Boras, in no uncertain terms, he and not Boras runs the Mets.

Alderson told CBS Sports: “For a guy to say to us on the 29th of August, `180 innings and then you’re going to shut him down … don’t call me seven months later and tell me you’re pulling the rug out from under me, not after all we’ve done to protect the player.’ ”

The Mets have done a lot, including throwing over 110 pitches just once. But, they could have done more, such as not permitting him to pitch in the “sore throat” game and not allowing him to pitch into the ninth in a blowout win over the Yankees.

If the Mets defined a plan of limiting Harvey to six innings, it would have saved them 18.1 innings over 14 starts. That total would be more if they shaved one start every two months.

Times have changed and agents have considerably more power in a team’s inner workings than ever before, and it’s not for the better. It’s just the way it is.

The Mets could have handled this better, but that’s something we say frequently about the Alderson regime. But, dealing with Boras is always tenuous at best. This is clearly about money – or, future money – which defines Boras.

Boras’ concern over Harvey’s health is disingenuous, because if he really cared he would have told his client to quit his complaining about the six-man rotation, which is designed to protect the pitcher.

The agent isn’t thinking about the Mets, or the playoffs, but solely his client and the prospects of what he will bring first in arbitration, and later, free agency. The less Harvey throws now, the greater the chance Harvey remains healthy and will cash in.

If you think this is a problem now, just imagine how things will be when Harvey becomes a free agent in 2019.

Aug 31

Bumping Colon From Playoff Roster Not Good Idea

One of the foregone conclusions of the Mets’ playoff push is that once they get there, they won’t have a role for Bartolo Colon.

Conventional wisdom has Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Jon Niese in the rotation. Although there has been some silliness reported about putting Syndergaard in the bullpen and Steven Matz in the rotation.

COLON: Don't skip him from playoffs. (AP)

COLON: Don’t skip him from playoffs. (AP)

Uh, that’s not a good idea.

Bumping Colon from the playoff roster isn’t a good idea either for a franchise that hasn’t played in the playoffs since 2006.

There have been times when Colon has been dreadful, but more often than not he’s been terrific, like he was Monday night, his start last week in Philadelphia and out of the bullpen Saturday.

Of Colon’s 27 starts, he’s given up more than four runs six times, walked only 21 batters and worked less than five innings only five times.

And, oh yes, Colon got his seventh hit Monday night along with throwing eight scoreless and tying his season-high with nine strikeouts. He’s now thrown 16 straight scoreless innings.

Where Colon also demonstrated his value is with that relief appearance over the weekend. It was for one inning, but should have planted the seed for long-man use.

In his two years with the Mets he has won 27 games. He has won 12 games this season, tied with deGrom for the team lead, one more than Harvey, and three more than Niese and Syndergaard.

Even so, the Mets seem determined to bump Colon in favor of Matz, who seemingly has a bright future but only two major league victories.

The number that works against Colon is that he’s 42. However, somewhere along the line he’ll do something or pass along a tidbit of information that could be invaluable.

The Mets shouldn’t throw that away.