Mar 08

Darvish Injury Shows Fragility Of Pitching … And Value Of Gee

This is how it will happen if Dillon Gee is traded: A starter will go down in another camp and if that team is thin in minor league pitching talent, it might not have another choice to deal with the Mets.

Multiple media sources, including ESPN New York, say the Texas Rangers aren’t interested in Gee.

GEE: Valuable. (AP)

GEE: Valuable. (AP)

After throwing 2.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen Saturday against Miami, Gee addressed the possibility of being traded to Texas in the wake of Yu Darvish possibly needing season-ending Tommy John surgery.

“What it boils down to is I don’t make those decisions. I can’t strike a trade with myself,’’ Gee told ESPN. “I did see that [about Darvish]. In my mind all I’m really thinking about is, ‘That sucks for Darvish.’ I mean, he’s a phenomenal pitcher. And I feel sorry for him. It sucks if he’s going to be gone for a year.’’

The Rangers say they have minor league talent comparable to that of Gee. That’s not to say other teams won’t. In that case, GM Sandy Alderson’s phone could ring.

However, Alderson shouldn’t be so willing to eager to get rid of who has been a reliable and productive pitcher. Maybe not ace quality, but a grinder who will usually find a way to give the Mets six innings.

The injury to Matt Harvey two years ago, and Darvish this spring, not to mention how many teams lack starting pitching – anybody look at the Yankees’ rotation lately? – indicate how vulnerable and fragile starting pitching can be.

The Mets have a potentially valuable chip in Gee and shouldn’t be so willing to play it – not when they might need it later.

 

Mar 07

Mets Must Earn Right To Have Swagger

About this swagger thing Mets manager Terry Collins wants his team to have, well, it just doesn’t happen. It is something a team grows into having, something the Mets haven’t had since 2006. They lost it with their September collapse in 2007, and haven’t come close to regaining it with the possible exception of every fifth game in 2013 when Matt Harvey pitched.

“You know, for years and years, you used to watch those teams that won all of the time, they had an air about them,’’ Collins said this week. “You used to play the Braves and they’d walk out there and, they weren’t cocky, but they were confident.They weren’t overbearing, they knew how to play, they knew what they had to do to win games.’’

The Braves earned the right to have swagger by getting into the playoffs for a decade straight. Jose Reyes used to dance in the dugout after scoring and thought that was swagger.

It wasn’t.

LeBron James and other NBA players flatter themselves into thinking they have swagger, but most really don’t. If you have to carry yourself in such a way where you want people to get the impression you’re tough, then you really aren’t. If you’re really tough you don’t have to pound your chest as if to say “look at me,’’ which seems the standard in the NBA and NFL these days.

I know what Collins is getting at, but it just doesn’t happen overnight. True swagger isn’t forced. For your opponents to fear and respect you, that must be earned and the Mets aren’t there, yet.

After six straight losing seasons you just don’t snap your fingers and say you have swagger. The Mets need to be tougher, and that includes winning close games; winning within the division; taking the other team’s second baseman out on a double play; and when your hitters get plunked, then plunk one of their batters.

Swagger needs to first come from the top. It’s having a general manager not afraid to roll the dice at the trade deadline. It’s about being decisive on a player who doesn’t have it and not being afraid to cut ties with past disasters like the Mets had in guys like Ike Davis and Jordany Valdespin.

The bottom line is if you’re good you don’t need to tell anybody because they will know. And, nobody knows that about the Mets. Not yet, anyway.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s notes.

Mar 06

Mets Wrap: Harvey Couldn’t Ask For Better Day

With the exception of a few more innings, Matt Harvey couldn’t have asked for more in his first mound appearance with the Mets since August of 2013. After undergoing Tommy John surgery, Harvey’s rehab culminated in two perfect innings in Friday’s 5-4 exhibition victory over Detroit. Harvey struck out three and his fastball topped out at 99 mph.

HARVEY: Perfect start. (Getty)

HARVEY: Perfect start. (Getty)

Harvey was immensely pleased with his performance, and more importantly, with how he felt.

“Things felt so good that the fact that I did have surgery is completely out of my mind,’’ Harvey told reporters. “The big thing is I was happy throwing strikes and not walking anybody. Those are the things you try to work on.

“Especially hearing things about guys going through this process and having tough command, for me, that was the big thing that I was focusing on today. And I was pretty happy about it.’’

Harvey threw only 25 pitches and joked with manager Terry Collins about pitching a few more innings, knowing it wouldn’t happen.

The Mets haven’t clearly defined how they will limit Harvey’s innings this year, but he spoke with dialing down how much, and how hard, he throws between starts.

Of course, with any pitcher coming back from arm surgery, the key is how he feels Saturday. If all is positive, he is scheduled to pitch Wednesday against Miami in Jupiter.

MURPHY INJURED: Daniel Murphy sustained a bone bruise and left Friday’s game after being struck by a David Price pitch on the top of his right hand in the second inning.

He was replaced by Ruben Tejada and is considered day-to-day.

EXTRA INNINGS: Shortstop prospect Matt Reynolds homered off Joe Mantiply in the bottom of the ninth to win the game. … Matt den Dekker hit a two-run double. … The Mets committed three errors. … Justin and Jaden Ramos, sons of Rafael Ramos, a NYPD officer murdered in December, were guests of David Wright and served as batboys. … Jacob deGrom will start Saturday against Atlanta at Port St. Lucie. The game will be on WPIX-11.

 

Mar 06

Harvey’s First Impression Of Start

Matt Harvey’s first start coming off Tommy John surgery was a good one with two perfect innings Friday afternoon against Detroit. Harvey struck out three and threw 25 of his prescribed 35 pitches, and finished his session throwing on the side.

HARVEY: Good first start. (AP)

HARVEY: Good first start. (AP)

“I wasn’t nervous. It felt good. … It was great,’’ Harvey said in a SNY interview from the Mets’ dugout. “This was the team I faced when things started crumbling. It is the biggest step so far.’’

Harvey’s last appearance was Aug. 24, 2013, when he was routed by the Tigers. He had surgery two months later.

While there is considerable talk about limiting Harvey this summer – much of it to be determined – he has one idea of his own.

“I think the main thing to work out is in between starts was that I was throwing too hard and too long in bullpens,’’ Harvey said. “The big thing is toning down the bullpens.’’

What Harvey didn’t mention, which I hoped he would, was to be more open about disclosing aches and pains. If you recall, he tried to pitch threw discomfort in his right forearm prior to the 2013 All-Star break.

 

Mar 06

Harvey Gets The Ball

While it is cold and snowy in New York, but today marks the real start of baseball season because Matt Harvey will make his first appearance in a game since Aug. 24, 2013.

He walked off that game against Detroit with pain in is right elbow that two months later required Tommy John surgery. By coincidence, he’s facing the Tigers again Friday.

HARVEY: All eyes on him today. (AP)

HARVEY: All eyes on him today. (AP)

Harvey blew a lot of smoke leading up to this start, telling reporters: “I’m looking at it as getting ready for a season. I’m not really putting any extra pressure on that there isn’t anyway. I’m looking at it as getting work done and preparing for a season like nothing has ever happened.’’

LOL. That’s rich. A quick show of hands please. How many actually believe that? Thought so …

Harvey isn’t fooling anybody. He literally begged the Mets to pitch last season, but GM Sandy Alderson held the course, which was the right thing to do.

Harvey is scheduled to throw 35 pitches over two innings – 40 tops – and it wouldn’t be natural if the adrenalin weren’t flowing full course. He’s as anxious as anybody to find out about his elbow.

Even pitching coach Dan Warthen anticipates Harvey’s competitive nature – which makes him a special prospect – to surface. It’s unavoidable, he said: “There’s no way you’re ever going to dial Matt down. It’s competition. He’s going to do everything he can to get that person out. So he’s not going to dial it down.’’

While the Mets have been pointing to Harvey’s return as the driving force for their drive to the playoffs, let’s be sure about one thing, and that is he is still a prospect with only 36 career starts, 178.1 innings and just 12 victories.

In the grand scheme of things, that’s not even one full season.

But, there’s a lot of pressure and angst tied into this start.

It’s only natural.