Feb 09

Harvey Arrives In Camp; Says All The Right Things

Matt Harvey didn’t want to see Port St. Lucie last summer during his rehab program, but now he couldn’t be happier to see the place … and answer all those questions.

Harvey reported to spring training ten days ahead of the Mets’ reporting date and was clearly anxious to put last year behind him, telling reporters today he’s excited and on schedule.

HARVEY: See you in the spring. (MLB)

HARVEY: See you in the spring. (MLB)

“I’m healthy. I’m right where I need to be, and I’m excited about getting started,’’ Harvey said this afternoon. “The big test will be once hitters get in there and facing them. I’ve been throwing [bullpen sessions], and everything is right where I want it to be. It’s an exciting spring training for me.’’

Last year, Harvey wanted to rehab in New York and not Florida, and also pushed the Mets at every turn about wanting to pitch at the end of the 2014 season.

He expressed no regrets today about how he was handled.

“Looking back on it, I think everybody made the right decision,’’ Harvey said. “I’m in a good place right now.’’

Call it an olive branch. It’s the first day and everybody is optimistic and in a good mood. No need for him to dredge up bad feelings. However, there are details to be ironed out and we’ll eventually see how harmonious things are between Harvey and the Mets.

GM Sandy Alderson is on record as saying Harvey will work with a to-be-determined innings ceiling. As of now, it appears he won’t be the Opening Day starter, but could start the home opener. That’s one missed start, but only a beginning. Will the Mets place him on the disabled list at midseason? Will they limit him to seven innings each start? Will they skip him once a month? Will he even be ready to start the season?

It would be great to have all these answers now, and hopefully this will be determined – and Harvey on board with everything – before the Mets break camp.

As for now, Harvey is saying all the right things.

“My goal is to be ready for Opening Day, regardless of what is decided,’’ Harvey said. “We haven’t really discussed anything. I don’t think anything’s set in stone.’’

The concept of an innings limit became popular in 2012 when Washington shut down Stephen Strasburg in September in his first season following Tommy John surgery and subsequently missed the playoffs. Now, it is in vogue.

Of course, right now it is premature to suggest the playoffs are even in the cards for the Mets, but this much is for certain, there will be no October for them if Harvey is re-injured.

Feb 06

Assessing The Real Value Of Harvey

This is the year the Mets pointed to with the return of Matt Harvey to their rotation. With Harvey, they hope, they could be a legitimate wild-card contender. Despite their holes, with Harvey the Mets have a good chance of winning every fifth day. He makes them a representative team, one worth watching, one that gives cause for optimism.

HARVEY: Has more than mound value. (Getty)

HARVEY: Has more than mound value. (Getty)

The Mets regard Harvey, who has 12 career victories in 36 starts in parts of two seasons, as their pitching rock, but he’s much more.

If Harvey turns out to become all he’s cracked up to be, and the Mets answer their other questions – including the continued development of Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom – their rebuilding program could turn out to be the real thing and not Sandy Alderson’s wishful thinking.

However, Harvey’s value to the Mets transcends the numbers he posts on the mound. He’s not only the future, but gives them flexibility and other assurances.

A healthy and productive Harvey could give the Mets confidence he’s worthy of a long-term deal, which translates into financial certainty. That’s invaluable to a franchise having economic problems.

In addition, if Harvey is sound it could give the Mets the freedom to deal one of their other pitchers to address other needs. A healthy Harvey also takes away the urgency to rush Noah Syndergaard to the majors.

However, it isn’t hard to imagine the Mets’ position if the reverse is true. There could be the urgency to force Syndergaard to Flushing or overspend next year in the free-agent market.

Yes, the Mets are counting on a lot of things this season from Harvey, most importantly, to be the future they envision.

Feb 05

Alderson Addresses Season Ticket Holders

I like that Mets GM Sandy Alderson held court with season ticket holders at Citi Field. The following are some of the tidbits from his meeting:

ALDERSON: Talks to ticket holders. (AP)

ALDERSON: Talks to ticket holders. (AP)

* Alderson said expectations are high and would be disappointed if the team did not make the playoffs. Earlier this week, Alderson said he believed the Mets had potential to be a 90-win team, which would be an increase of ten victories.

However, Alderson did not specify what improvements the Mets made to justify that jump other than the healthy returns of Matt Harvey and David Wright.

* He said the Mets could hold Harvey out from Opening Day and instead save him for the home opener, but manager Terry Collins eluded to that several weeks ago. In addition, there has been doubt as to whether Harvey will be ready for the start of the season. This will be determined in spring training.

* Regarding the shortstop, Alderson said the Mets considered at least eight shortstops in the offseason, but all had flaws that didn’t warrant ditching Wilmer Flores.

Alderson said the Mets won’t sign Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, citing financial restraints.

* Alderson said Noah Syndergaard isn’t about to be traded, and neither are any of the other starting pitchers, saying he’s not going to deal just to make a trade.

Finally, Alderson wants to be judged on what the Mets do on the field this year instead of what he did in the off-season.

That won’t be a problem.

 

Feb 04

Mets Should Consider These Contract Extensions

History has shown us the best way, and most economical, is to build from within and complement your core with free-agent signings and trades.

The Mets have a young, but largely unproven core of talent outside of David Wright.

HARVEY: Mets should consider long-term if he's healthy.

HARVEY: Mets should consider long-term if he’s healthy.

I wrote the other day how the Mets should consider extending Lucas Duda if he duplicates last season’s production. He’s not the only one the Mets should go long-term on to avoid the arbitration years.

If these Mets prove to be healthy and have strong seasons, I would call the agents for Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. We’ve seen glimpses of their potential and their value will only increase.

I might even include Jacob deGrom and Jenrry Mejia in that category.

I don’t think we’ve seen enough from Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares or Wilmer Flores to make that call. As for Jon Niese, the Mets already went long-term with him and he failed to produce so he goes to the back of the line. That is, unless the Mets don’t trade him first.

I can’t even think to put Noah Syndergaard in this grouping until he at least pitches on this level.

This much we know, the Mets are not, and will not be a free-spending team any time soon. Signing any player to a multi-year contract entails some risk, but those named are the best young prospects the organization has to offer.

To be financially solvent it is important for all businesses, including sports franchises, to have cost certainty and that comes in the form of structured salaries.

These would be good gambles.

Feb 03

Mets Agree To Terms With Duda; Should Consider Extension

Barring a trade, the Mets have all their players signed, sealed and delivered with the announcement of settling with Lucas Duda to a $4.2 million contract to avoid arbitration.

In agreeing with Duda the Mets’ payroll is now close to $100 million, with still the potential matter of trading pitcher Dillon Gee.

The Mets will have control over Duda through the 2017 season.

Duda, who turned 29 today, will be entering his first season as the Mets’ starter at first base. Duda hit .253 with 30 homers and 92 RBI last year. Duda also had a .349 on-base percentage. Just think how much better it would have been had he not struck out 135 times.

If Duda has a similar season in 2015, the Mets should consider signing him to a long-term deal as his value with increase.