Mar 04

Johan Santana Signs With Orioles; It’s Official, Mets Lost Deal

Despite both sides saying continuing their relationship remained a possibility, we all knew when the New York Mets gave Johan Santana a $5.5 million buyout for this season that would never happen.

It’s what parting sides always claim when they don’t want to say what’s really on their minds.

SANTANA: Offiical: Mets lose trade (AP)

SANTANA: Offiical: Mets lose trade (AP)

From his part, Santana would liked to have kept on milking the cash cow. The Mets however, weren’t happy he threw before he was scheduled that final spring and ended up sitting out the entire 2013 season.

After spending $137.5 million, they weren’t about to throw good money after bad, especially since Santana made it clear he wasn’t going to offer a “home team discount.’’ Instead, Santana settled on a minor league contract today with the Baltimore Orioles.

Any contract is a risk, especially a six-year deal for a pitcher who had already experienced shoulder problems before he broke down with the Mets. In the end, for all that money, the Mets received one solid year, a tainted no-hitter, but without question, 100 percent effort whenever Santana took the mound.

They did not receive the repeated 20-win seasons and playoff appearances they had hoped. In short, they gambled and lost.

After they lost Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS and kicked away a seven-game lead with 17 games remaining in 2007, and in dire need of pitching, the Mets rolled the dice on Santana.

The Mets sent four prospects – one of them turning out to be All-Star outfielder Carlos Gomez – for the overworked and already damaged left-hander. They then signed him for at the time was the richest contract in franchise history.

As what often has been the case with the Mets, in both the trade and subsequent contract negotiations, they bid against themselves.

Santana became available because both the Yankees and Red Sox backed off, so as the only real party to the table, they could have had him for less. And, because the Twins weren’t going to bend to Santana’s salary demands, the Mets agreed to giving him way too much money.

Outside a 15-7 record with a league-leading 2.53 ERA in 34 starts in 2008, his first season with the Mets, Santana never completed a full year in New York and didn’t pitch at all in 2011 and 2013 because of shoulder injuries.

With a full season is considered 34 starts, Santana left 95 starts on the table. That is far more glaring than his production of 46-34, a 3.18 ERA and the only no-hitter in franchise history.

The no-hitter came in his 12th start after rehabbing from shoulder surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule. To this day, manager Terry Collins laments letting him throw 134 pitches.

Ironically, it was a tainted no-hitter because a blown call on what should have been an extra-base hit for Carlos Beltran |was ruled a foul ball.

Had that call been made correctly, then Santana doesn’t throw that many pitches, then, who really knows?

Santana made only 10 more starts for the Mets before he was shut down in August of 2012. In spring training of 2013, in an angered response to GM Sandy Alderson’s comments he didn’t report in shape, Santana went against his prescribed rehab routine and without Collins’ knowledge, threw off the mound and aggravated the injury.

In another dose of irony, the pitcher often fueled by pride was done in by the same. Santana re-tore the capsule and underwent a second surgery.

To this day, Santana never acknowledged his mistake of throwing off the mound, and Anderson never admitted whether his dig at the left-hander’s condition was meant as motivation and backfired.

Either way, after that day, the Santana Era was over, regardless of what either side claimed.

Mar 04

Mets Today: Zack Wheeler Gets The Ball; Injury Updates

After Jonathon Niese was scratched from today’s start, the New York Mets moved up Zack Wheeler against the Houston Astros.

Wheeler was shut down last summer by a combination of a tight shoulder and innings count. All reports have him throwing well this spring.

With Matt Harvey out for the season, Wheeler will draw the bulk of the focus when it comes to the Mets’ pitching. However, Wheeler grabbed his fair of attention last summer, going 7-5 with a 3.42 ERA in 17 starts that spanned 100 innings.

Wheeler cited improved fundamentals as his 2014 goal, saying earlier this spring: “Just being more consistent, throwing more strikes and stuff.’’

In addition:

* Kyle Farnsworth, John Church, Vic Black, Adam Kolarek, Scott Rice and Cory Mazzoni are also scheduled to pitch.

* Ike Davis, who was scratched from yesterday’s game, is expected to play. Also expected to play is shortstop Ruben Tejada (tight left hamstring) and Eric Young (tightness in his side).

* Today’s game will be telecast by SNY.

Mar 03

Mets Wrap: Syndergaard Impressive; Davis Scratched; Piazza In Camp

New York Mets prospect Noah Syndergaard threw two scoreless innings this afternoon in a 6-2 victory over Atlanta. Manager Terry Collins called it a “big test’’ as Syndergaard gave up one hit in his 30-pitch audition that included a three-pitch punch out of Evan Gattis.

“You’re not in Kansas anymore,’’ Collins told reporters of Syndergaard’s performance. “You’re where the big guys play. I thought he handled it great. You don’t see a lot of people throw three fastballs by Gattis. That won’t happen very much. He just made pitches he had to make.

“He’s a big, tough kid. He’s got all the traits of the good ones. He takes stuff seriously. He’s not joking around. He didn’t joke around even after he came out of the game. … There are certainly some things we’ve got to get him to do better. But, right now, he’s on track to be special.’’

That’s not to be interpreted to mean Syndergaard will open the season on the Opening Day roster. Syndergaard worked on an innings count last season at Double-A Binghamton, and projections are he will start the year at Triple-A Las Vegas.

In addition:

* First baseman Lucas Duda left the game with leg stiffness and is day-to-day.

* First baseman Ike Davis was pulled from the lineup with a tight calf. He is expected to play Tuesday.

* Former Mets catcher Mike Piazza, 45, is in camp this week as a guest instructor. Jeff Wilpon invited him last September when he was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame. “For me it’s very rewarding to coach and to try to help a little bit,’’ Piazza said.

* Shortstop Ruben Tejada did not play because of a tight left hamstring, but is expected to play Tuesday.

* Jonathon Niese said his left shoulder felt good after throwing in the bullpen Monday afternoon. Niese is scratched from tomorrow’s start. He is expected to throw again Thursday, but does not have a date set in which he will start.

* Major League Baseball’s new instant replay format will be tested at Tradition Field, March 7, 15, 18 and 23.

* Matt Harvey long-tossed this morning. He’s still a long way from the mound.

 

Mar 03

Mets’ Harvey Gets Valuable Advice From Strasburg

Shelved New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey has received unsolicited, yet valuable advice, from the opposition. First Roy Halladay, prior to his retirement this winter, spoke with him on whether to undergo Tommy John surgery.

STRASBURG: Advises Harvey (AP)

STRASBURG: Advises Harvey (AP)

Now, Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg, through an interesting column by The New York Post’s Kevin Kernan, counseled him on his rehab. Strasburg, who blew out his elbow in his 2010 rookie season, advised him on the slow rehab process. Strasburg, who shares the same agent as Harvey in Scott Boras, also volunteered to speak with him.

Strasburg said it is a long, slow process, and the idea of taking things day-to-day isn’t always the best method as it can get frustrating.

“You’ll feel great one day, and the next day it’s terrible,’’ Strasburg said. “The best advice I got was, `Look where you were at the start of the month and then at the end of the month. Don’t look at where you were yesterday.’ ’’

It’s kind of like dieting in that stepping on the scale every morning can drive you crazy. There will be setbacks, whether it is a donut or a little tightness one morning.

Veteran pitchers know their bodies, while Harvey is just learning how his responds to pain and injury. There were times Harvey eschewed talking to the trainers last summer when he felt discomfort. Perhaps, this was overestimating his recuperative powers.

“It’s a different beat,’’ Strasburg said about the differences between rehabbing and training. “Recovery is huge, once you learn how long it takes for your body to recover and how often you need to let your body relax and just get back to full health.

“That’s when you can really accomplish the durable things that pitchers do.’’

The Mets suggested it, but haven’t put Harvey not coming back this season in stone. That might be a prudent thing to do because it takes away the carrot of possibly pitching in late September. Harvey long-tossed this morning and doesn’t have a date when he’ll throw off the mound.

This is part of the problem. What date will Harvey throw from the mound? When will he pitch batting practice?

Just say no, and leave 2015 as the target date, not late this summer.

 

Mar 03

Mets Today: Syndergaard To Start Against Braves

One of the bright spots for the New York Mets this spring is pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, who is coming off a two-inning, five-strikeout performance in last Thursday’s intrasquad game.

Today, he’ll face Atlanta at the Disney complex near Orlando.

“I kind of shocked myself a little bit,’’ Syndergaard said of his intrasquad outing. “I wasn’t expecting that my first time out there.’’

Syndergaard, who stands an imposing 6-foot-5, throws a nasty curveball and 97 mph., fastball. That’s a good beginning, but to become an effective major league starter, he’ll need a third pitch.

“I’m excited, a little nervous at the same time,’’ Syndergaard said of today’s exhibition start. “It’s the first time facing a real big-league lineup. I’m going to go out there and do what I can. It’s still a game. They’re still playing baseball out there.’’

The Mets don’t anticipate bringing up Syndergaard until mid-June, instead, going with Daisuke Matsuzaka or John Lannan, as the fifth-starter candidate to open the season.

At the start of spring training, Jenrry Mejia was also listed as a fifth-starter possibility, but there appears a growing sentiment that won’t happen and he could end up in the bullpen or minor leagues. Mejia is recovering from elbow surgery.

In addition:

* Also scheduled to pitch today are Jacob deGrom, Miguel Socolovich, Gonzalez Germen, Josh Edgin and Jeff Walters.

* With Ruben Tejada day-to-day with a strained left hamstring, Wilmer Flores is expected to play shortstop today after Omar Quintanilla.

* Expect outfielder Eric Young to see time today.

ON DECK:  If Sandy Alderson expects the Mets to be a 90-win team, does that mean he’ll make moves like a 90-win franchise?