Aug 29

Mets’ Outfield Prospect Matt den Dekker To Make Debut Today

Providing the weather clears, the New York Mets will run out another rookie this afternoon: lanky center fielder Matt den Dekker. This kid can fly and run down a ball in the gap with anybody the Mets have, but is a slow study at the plate.

Den Dekker’s opportunity comes in the aftermath of the trade of Marlon Byrd to Pittsburgh.

DEN DEKKER: Tracks them down.

DEN DEKKER: Tracks them down.

A capsule of den Dekker’s production was last year when he hit .340 at Double-A Binghamton, but .220 at Triple-A Buffalo. Den Dekker was producing for Triple-A Las Vegas, hitting .296 with six home runs, eight doubles and 38 RBI in 53 games.

Like other outfield prospects in the organization – Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Juan Lagares – den Dekker has had too high a strikeout ratio for his production.

However, after starting the season with a broken wrist, den Dekker’s strikeout ratio has dropped and he’s walking more. The speculation is the injury forced him to shorten his swing.

When the Mets opened Citi Field, they did so under the pretext of defense and pitching, but their first significant signing was Jason Bay.

From left to right, the Mets will likely go with Eric Young, den Dekker and Lagares, easily their fastest and best defensive outfield alignment they’ve had in a long time.

The projected power numbers from that trio would be too low for the major leagues, but theoretically it could be acceptable if they were getting it elsewhere, but David Wright is on the disabled list (he leaves for treatment in Florida today) and they are getting nothing from Ike Davis.

The Mets will use the final month to get an idea of what their outfield could look like next year. With the absence of Byrd, the Mets will still look for a power-hitting outfielder over the winter.

Should they obtain that kind of outfielder, it could come down to den Dekker or Lagares for the starting job in center. Lagares has been impressive in streaks, but strikes out too much. Defensively, den Dekker goes back on the ball better, which is very important in Citi Field, but Lagares, who already has 11 assists, might have a stronger arm.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 28

Holy UCL Batman! Mets In Trouble Without Matt Harvey!

Matt Harvey might as well play on Twitter because he’s not going to be pitching for the New York Mets any time soon.

Last night, while his teammates outside of Marlon Byrd and John Buck were taking batting practice, Harvey mustered all his strength to tweet: “Thank you everyone for the kind words and support. I may be done this year, but I will be back next year for April 1.’’

HARVEY: More than a bloody nose this time.

HARVEY: More than a bloody nose this time.

Then the Mets, no doubt inspired by this bit of news, went out to win one for Harvey.

I have no doubt Harvey will be back next April Fool’s Day, just not starting a game for the Mets. But, I can’t say that with any more certainty than Harvey can predict he’ll make a triumphant MacAurthuresque return.

“If that’s his tweet, that’s his tweet,’’ said Sandy Alderson, who didn’t immediately call off the off-season.

It’s great to be optimistic, but not to the point of being illogical. There’s just too much information currently not available, such as a second opinion after the swelling subsides, which could be in more than two weeks.

What I can tell you with certainty are the Mets would be foolish if they were to bank on Harvey’s return and making a contending run next season. The Mets must, and I can’t emphasize this enough, go on with life assuming Harvey won’t be in it until 2015 at the earliest.

Gloom and doom? You bet, but you’re Mets’ fans, you should be used to it by now.

As far as what Jon Niese did last night in shutting out the Phillies, it was simply a sign he’s recovering from his shoulder tear. It can’t be assumed Harvey will recover that quickly as every arm is different.

Terry Collins, whom I still can’t believe didn’t know about Harvey’s elbow until a few days ago, was accurate in something he said last night that nobody will feel sorry for the Mets and the final month is about auditioning for 2014 jobs.

I’ve endorsed Collins several times for an extension and believe he should return. However, nothing is a slam dunk in this game and Collins will be watched closely on how he handles this adversity. Harvey’s injury plus the Buck-Byrd trade – which was made for the right reasons – is akin to a punch in the gut. Niese’s game was a start, but wounded teams often show an initial spark.

The issue is if they sustain and return to play the alert, aggressive baseball they were before being swept by the Dodgers. Now, more than ever before, Collins needs to show he still has his team and will have them playing with fire until the end.

If they call it a season now, that’s a reflection on Collins.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 27

No Surprise, Mets Mishandle Matt Harvey Injury

When the New York Mets hired Sandy Alderson as general manager a new culture was promised, including the handling of injuries. It has not come to be. With the Mets and injuries, it remains “speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil.”

Another Mets mess with injuries.

Another Mets mess with injuries.

Tightness in Matt Harvey’s elbow, and lack of response to it, could put his career in jeopardy. After talking of the need to protect Harvey by capping his innings, he is done for the year and possibly next season with a tear in his elbow that could require Tommy John surgery.

Tell me, is anybody shocked at how the Mets handled this?

Alderson said he knew about the forearm issue for around a month, which would be a week or so after the All-Star break. Terry Collins said he found out about it a few days ago. Harvey said he told the medical staff before the break, which is why his turn prior to the All-Star Game was cancelled.

One is telling the truth. Of the three, I believe Harvey.

Whenever a player, pitcher of not, receives treatment, a report is given to the general manager and manager. This makes Alderson’s and Collins’ comments “challengeable’’ at best. Does anybody seriously think the training staff would withhold information on Harvey receiving treatment?

Even if Alderson is telling the truth, why wasn’t a MRI ordered immediately? Not doing so is the epitome of irresponsibility. Alderson said the Mets didn’t make a trade because he wanted the team to finish strong. But, that objective doesn’t coincide with the need to protect the team’s best pitching prospect since Dwight Gooden.

What is the point of building for the future if you put your best pitcher at risk just to sell a few tickets and have the spotlight on him at the All-Star Game? Was is worth losing Harvey until possibly 2015?

Damn, if Harvey or Zack Wheeler sneeze, get a MRI.

As for Collins, there’s no way I believe he just found out about the injury. It puts his objectives in question and brings to light the problem of a lame duck manager. Collins’ primary goal is to win now and secure an extension, and if that means running Harvey out there with the blessing of the general manager, so be it. There is absolutely no way Collins didn’t know.

Having an asset such as Harvey and not protecting it with an immediate MRI exam the first time he complained of discomfort is reckless and stupid. It is having a Lamborghini and not parking it in a garage.

I understand Harvey’s competitive nature, but sooner or later he has to learn he’s in this for himself. It’s a team sport yes, but he can’t help anybody if he’s hurt. He has to raise his arm – before he’s unable to – and say, “something is wrong, I can’t pitch.’’ Nobody will think less of him.

By not raising a stink, Harvey cost himself the rest of this season and possibly all of next year with Tommy John surgery.

Yeah, I know injuries can happen at any time, but they are more likely to occur when the arm is sore and tight. Maybe it would have happened anyway, but we’ll never know. What we do know is the appearance of how the Mets handled this was fast and loose. Shoddy.

Yeah, yeah, I hear how dozens of pitchers recovered from Tommy John surgery, but how many have not? Surgery is not an exact science. I defy anybody to guarantee 100 percent the result of a surgery.

No doctor would make that assurance and considering their history in handling of injuries, the Mets definitely can’t.

This is a mess and if I’m Harvey, I’d be angry at myself for not being more proactive and at the Mets for their reckless handling of the injury.

As I’ve written dozens of times, when it comes to pitching injuries, always bet the over.

ON DECK: Will the Mets deal now?

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 25

Decision Time For Mets On How To Limit Matt Harvey

i-1

HOW WILL METS LIMIT MATT HARVEY? (Getty)

How the New York Mets handle Matt Harvey the rest of the season we should know this week. Harvey admitted the effects of his workload this season are wearing him down, and with the concession Terry Collins knows there’s no more procrastinating with this issue.

Previously, Harvey said he wasn’t happy being limited, but following the loss, admitted being tired. He also said dealing with fatigue is part of the learning process. Eventually, the Mets will play meaningful games in September and October, and they will need Harvey.

“It’s a long season and you’ve got to push through it,’’ Harvey said. “Right now I’m not doing a good job of doing that, and we’ve got to figure something out.’’

Currently, Collins has three options, including: 1) pushing next Thursday’s start against Philadelphia back one day, 2) skipping his turn in the rotation completely and start him in the next turn, Sept. 3, and/or 3) stopping him at six innings period.

The problem with a strict innings cap of six is it doesn’t take into account the strain of the pitches thrown. Harvey threw 6.2 innings Saturday, but they were all grueling because of the tenacity of the pitches.

To his credit, Harvey is not using his lack of run support as an excuse. Clearly, with no runs, Harvey must bear down as he can’t risk a mistake. Saying such a thing, as true as it might be, takes a swipe at his offense, and Harvey won’t travel that road.

An extra 24 hours of rest helps minimally, but if he pitches the next day those innings still count. The best solution is to skin a turn, which takes away the opportunity at six or seven more innings.

From there, just cap his innings at five or six, and perhaps skip one more start. That should get him through the season at the prescribed innings count.

Then do the same with Zack Wheeler.

The problem with this preventative measure is it hinders developing his endurance, and it prevents nothing. Regardless of what steps take, a pitcher’s arm is a fragile thing not meant to throw a baseball with such torque and violence.

Something can always happen to a pitcher, with no guarantees of them not.

Face it, Nolan Ryan was a freak, and gone are the days when Juan Marichal threw 30 complete games in 1968. He threw 325.2 innings that season. He came back with 27 complete games the following year.

Clearly, it was a different era. Then rotations were four deep and complete games were the expected norm and not the exception. That was a mentality developed in the minor leagues and earlier.

From when Harvey first started pitching, complete games were a novelty. It’s too late to start him thinking otherwise.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 24

Fantasizing About Runs For Matt Harvey; Where Will Lucas Duda Play?

If the New York Mets are to win this weekend, today is their best chance, with Matt Harvey starting. The sad thing, is that feeling comes with the statistical backdrop of a 13-12 record in his starts this season, including the Mets going 6-10 in his last 16 starts.

HARVEY: What's he really think about his support?

HARVEY: What’s he really think about his support?

Harvey has a 2.67 ERA with a 119-to-17 strikeouts-to-walks ration in those 16 starts.

The Mets are counting Harvey’s innings, but in a match-up against Detroit’s Max Scherzer in a rematch of All-Star starters, you have to figure unless his pitch count is obscene, Terry Collins will keep sending him out there.

The Mets have given Harvey 95 runs of support in his 25 starts. By contrast, the Tigers have given Scherzer 151 runs in his 25 starts. Considering the Tigers are giving Scherzer 2.24 more runs in his starts, and the Mets have lost nine Harvey starts in which the margin of difference was two or fewer runs, we could be talking about 18 victories for their phenom.

It doesn’t work that way, but occasionally it is interesting to speculate about, especially if you’re Harvey’s agent.

NO SPOT FOR DUDA: Who knows, perhaps today’s game will be decided by Lucas Duca, who has been promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas at the expense of Mike Baxter.

Duda is hitting .308 at Triple over his last 12 starts, in which he exclusively played first base.

Of Collins’ three options – first base platoon with Ike Davis; left field platoon with Eric Young; or off the bench – first base appears the most likely place for Duda.

Davis has played better since coming up from Vegas, but not well enough to say all his issues are resolved. One of the Mets’ off-season decisions is whether to tender Davis. If they do not, he becomes a free-agent and opens a hole at first base.

Presumably, that could be filled by Duda.