Mar 16

Alderson Answers Critical Questions About Wheeler

Mets GM Sandy Alderson answered several questions raised Monday following the announcement Zack Wheeler‘s MRI revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow that would require Tommy John surgery and cost the highly-touted prospect this season.

Earlier today I raised several questions pertaining to the Mets handling of Wheeler’s injury. Alderson addressed most of them in a conference call this morning prior to the exhibition game against Boston in Fort Myers.

WHEELER: Done for year. (AP)

WHEELER: Done for year. (AP)

Wheeler underwent an MRI Saturday despite Alderson insisting one wasn’t needed and traveled Monday to New York to meet with Dr. David Altcheck at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Among the questions raised and subsequently answered by Alderson:

* After two MRIs in the offseason, which were negative, Alderson said another MRI wasn’t needed, but relented Saturday and ordered one. What was his reasoning? In a conference call, Alderson said he changed his mind because “the area of pain had increased in size.”

* Earlier the Mets said they weren’t concerned about discomfort in Wheeler’s elbow. Why? “We had been forewarned by the doctor that his elbow was a concern and it was going to have to be managed over the course of this season. It wasn’t clear that the ligament was involved at that time, but we understood we were going to have to manage his elbow condition over the course of the season. So when he complained of the elbow pain, it wasn’t a surprise to us.”

* Is there any good news in all this? Alderson said if there’s a positive it is that the issue will finally be addressed, as it was with Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, and hopefully this will be the end of it. Said Alderson: “It’s a blow, but at the same time we knew there would be a lot of uncertainty surrounding Zack and his elbow over the course of the season. We’re obviously not happy he won’t be with us. But if there’s a silver lining, it’s that we now have some certainty and we have a solution for this that he won’t have to manage the kind of pain that he had to manage over the course of last season. Doing that over the course of a career is simply unsustainable.”

Manager Terry Collins said Wheeler managed discomfort last season, but what isn’t known is how adamant Wheeler was in complaining of the pain. Did he fail to disclose this, something Matt Harvey did the previous year?

Both Collins and Alderson said the two MRIs in the offseason were negative, so apparently this issue resurfaced this spring. What isn’t known is whether Wheeler threw too hard, too soon.

While Alderson addressed the obvious, something for down the road is how their pitchers throw in the offseason and the start of spring training. What exactly is the monitoring process and how can the pitchers be forced to be more open in disclosing injuries and pain?

While Alderson addressed the most pressing questions, the perception is the Mets mishandled this in not immediately getting a MRI. Again, if I were a Met pitcher and felt something wrong I would immediately want it checked out.

That’s because one critical question remains unanswered: Why does this always seem to happen to the Mets?

 

 

Mar 15

Re-Visiting Spring Training Questions

The Mets opened spring training with ten significant questions. A month later, let’s take a look at the status of those questions to see what progress the Mets have made in answering them:

Q: How healthy is Matt Harvey?

A: This is arguably the most important question of the season. So far, indications are positive regarding Harvey’s health. The Mets still don’t know how they’ll break down Harvey’s innings or where he will slot into the rotation.

HARVEY: So far healthy this spring.  (AP)

HARVEY: So far healthy this spring. (AP)

Q: Who breaks camp as the leadoff hitter?

A: This remains undecided, but it appears Juan Lagares is the frontrunner based on his speed. However, Lagares must still improve his on-base percentage and reduce his strikeouts. Curtis Granderson had some success hitting leadoff last year, but has more value hitting in the middle of the order.

Q: How healthy is David Wright?

A: A weak shoulder sapped Wright of his power last season and it wasn’t until Saturday when he hit his first homer of the spring. Improving their offense to complement the potential of their young pitching is largely dependent of Wright.

Q: What will be the rotation order?

A: This much we know: Harvey will pitch in one of the first five games. I am not totally sold on the notion Harvey won’t be the Opening Day starter. If not Harvey, I had been thinking about Bartolo Colon, but he’s been getting hammered. So, it is now up in the air, with possibly Jacob deGrom over Jon Niese – who I would slot in the middle of the rotation – and Zack Wheeler, who is bothered by a sore shoulder.

Q: Will Dillon Gee be traded?

A: The Mets wanted too much for Gee when they dangled him during the winter. With Wheeler ailing, the need to keep Gee has been enhanced. The Mets currently are thinking of using Gee out of the bullpen.

Q: How good is Wilmer Flores?

A: Flores needs a legitimate opportunity, and that includes sticking with him even if with a poor spring training. Flores is off to a good start offensively and has committed only two errors.

Q: What is the make-up of the bullpen?

A: Bobby Parnell and Josh Edgin will open the season on the disabled list. Jenrry Mejia will come out of spring training as the closer and Jeurys Familia as the set-up closer. The Mets currently have a handful of candidates to replace Edgin as the situational lefty.

Q: Will there be any additions?

A: It stands to reason the Mets will sign a free-agent lefty reliever if they are unable to trade for one. Once teams start making roster cuts there will be a flood of free agents.

Q: Who makes an impression?

A: None of the left possibilities have been impressive, which means Rafael Montero could steal a spot in the bullpen. GM Sandy Alderson said Steven Matz would not go to the bullpen to replace Edgin. Noah Syndergaard won’t make the rotation, even with Colon having a rough spring.

Q: Any injuries?

A: This is always the wild card. Edgin is lost for the season following Tommy John surgery. Lucas Duda missed three weeks with a strained intercostal muscle. And, there’s a lot left to the spring.

Mar 14

So Far Flores Making The Grade

Wilmer Flores has done nothing to thwart the Mets’ confidence in him to open the season at shortstop.

He’s made several nice plays in the field, and will only get better as his knowledge of opposing hitters and his positioning improves. Look, he’s not going to be the second coming of Rey Ordonez, but for now the Mets want him to make the basic plays, and for the most part that’s what he’s done.

FLORES: Holding his own.

FLORES: Holding his own.

Flores short-hopped a ball to Eric Campbell for an error Friday (his second of the spring), but that throw could have been handled by an accomplished first baseman. However, Flores made a diving stop to start a double play in the sixth.

“He’s got to get comfortable at shortstop,’’ manager Terry Collins said after Friday’s 13-2 rout of Atlanta. “He’s got to relax and realize what it takes to play there. He’s got to slow the game down a little bit. It’s natural when you’re young to try to hurry things. … Last year he looked comfortable out there, and we’ve got to get him that way this spring.’’

Flores had three hits Friday, including a three-run homer, and overall is batting .455 with four extra-base hits and five RBI.

Currently, Flores is going unchallenged for the shortstop job. Ruben Tejada will make the team as a bench player an Wilmer Flores has done nothing to thwart the Mets’ confidence in him opening the season at shortstop.

Specifically, he’s made several nice plays in the field, and will only get better as his knowledge of opposing hitters and his positioning improves. Look, he’s not going to be the second coming of Rey Ordonez, but for now the Mets want him to make the basic plays, and for the most part that’s what he’s done.

Flores short-hopped a ball to Eric Campbell for an error Friday (his second of the spring), but that throw could have been handled by an accomplished first baseman. However, Flores made a diving stop to start a double play in the sixth.

“He’s got to get comfortable at shortstop,’’ manager Terry Collins said after Friday’s 13-2 rout of Atlanta. “He’s got to relax and realize what it takes to play there. He’s got to slow the game down a little bit. It’s natural when you’re young to try to hurry things.”

Flores had three hits Friday, including a three-run homer, and overall is batting .455 with four extra-base hits and five RBI.

Currently, Flores is going unchallenged for the shortstop job. Ruben Tejada will make the team as a bench player and Matt Reynolds – who has a game-winning homer – will go to the minor leagues.

Mar 13

Mets Matters: Edgin Update; Wheeler Scratched: Mets Win Big

Mets lefty reliever Josh Edgin, as expected, sought a second opinion with Dr. James Andrews regarding Tommy John surgery. The MRI the Mets took will be sent to Andrews and examined. It will then be determined if Andrews needs to examine Edgin.

The current diagnosis is a stretched elbow irritated by a bone spur.

mets-matters logoEdgin told reporters Friday: “I’m looking at the second opinion as a mental thing to make the decision a little easier, whatever it may be. The best outcome is this rehab will work. I’m looking at it optimistically and prepared for both ends of the spectrum.’’

The worst-case scenario is surgery, but if it is done it should be shortly so Edgin is ready for next season.

WHEELER SCRATCHED: Zack Wheeler was scratched for Saturday’s start against Washington because of a tender elbow and blister.

Wheeler will not have an MRI.

Meanwhile, Vic Black underwent a MRI on his throwing shoulder.

Not sure why pictures were taken on Black and not Wheeler.

METS ROUT BRAVES: The Mets scored five runs in the first inning and Wilmer Flores hit a three-run homer in the third to power the Mets.

Flores’ homer was part of a 3-for-4 day. Curtis Granderson added two hits and Matt den Dekker walked three times.

Jon Niese started and struck out three in 3.2 innings.

LAWSUIT SETTLED: The Mets settled their lawsuit with Leigh Castergine, who was fired, Aug. 26, 2014, after four years of employment.

She alleged sexual harassment from COO Jeff Wilpon, claiming she was fired because Wilpon was “morally opposed’’ to her being unmarried and pregnant.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, and the parties stated in a joint statement: “The parties have decided to resolve this matter, which has brought more attention to the workplace environment for women in sports and will result in the organization being more attentive to the important issues raised by women in sports. Additionally, we are both committed to the further development and encouragement of female executives in our industry. Both sides? have agreed to have no further comments.’’

ROSTER MOVES: Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini, both first-round picks, and catching prospect Xorge Carrillo were reassigned to the minor league camp. … The Mets have 54 players in camp, including Bobby Parnell and Edgin, both of whom are ticketed for the disabled list.

Mar 13

Memo To Alderson: Stop Treating Mets Fans Like Chumps

I understand as a longtime baseball executive, Mets GM Sandy Alderson knows more about the inner workings of the sport, and his team, than I do.

By definition, he has to.

ALDERSON: Has shades when it comes to Met fans. (AP)

ALDERSON: Has shades when it comes to Met fans. (AP)

However, I am not stupid, and I don’t think my readers are, either. Sandy, I don’t know how to build a watch, but I know how to tell time.

And, the time has come to say again Mets fans are loyal and passionate, and don’t deserve to be treated like idiots, because they are not.

In the book, “Baseball Maverick,’’ Steve Kettmann – who covered the Oakland Athletics – revealed a disturbing nugget about Alderson.

Alderson said: “Madoff wasn’t even a topic of conversation in my interview for the Mets job. I didn’t raise it. Maybe I should have. The bottom line is, I would have taken the job anyway. It just added to the challenge.’’

The reason Alderson didn’t ask about Madoff is because it wasn’t a real job interview. Of course, Alderson was going to take the job. Alderson was gift-wrapped to the Wilpons by commissioner Bud Selig, and Madoff was a non-issue.

As part of his job in the commissioner’s office, Alderson was re-assigned to be Mets’ general manager.

The Alderson-Selig-Wilpon relationship was too cozy and underscored the deserved criticism of the former commissioner in that he gave Wilpon a free pass. In doing so, it also highlighted his biased handling of the Frank McCourt case when he owned the Los Angeles Dodgers. Selig disliked McCourt intensely and wanted him out, even though his handling of the Dodgers was not as clumsy as Wilpon has been sometimes with the Mets.

Regarding the Mets’ finances over the past four years, Alderson told reporters yesterday payroll has increased by $15 million over last year. It irritates me no end to hear Alderson say the Mets’ payroll is of no relevance to him.

“I never talked about the payroll as an unfortunate limitation to us,” Alderson said. “I haven’t talked about it recently. I haven’t talked about it in the past. I don’t intend to. It’s not relevant to me.”

Let’s get this straight. Alderson is the GM of a major league baseball team and the payroll doesn’t matter to him. What then is relevant to him?

For a New York franchise supposedly on the upswing, that $15 million is a drop in the bucket, and didn’t do anything to upgrade: shortstop, the lefty situation in the bullpen and the offense.

The Mets are going with the hope of cheap patchwork from outside – Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry – the hope of injured players on the mend – David Wright and Matt Harvey – and hope of young players making progress, namely Zack Wheeler, Juan Lagares and Jacob deGrom.

But, as I’ve said before, hoping is not a viable strategy.