Sep 18

From Matz To Duda, A Lot To Like About Mets

There are several things to take out of Friday’s Mets-Yankees game, none of which pertains to so-called bragging rights. Tell me, does anybody really believe in that?

The first is Steven Matz. All along, I’ve advocated leaving Matz out of the playoff rotation, simply because I didn’t believe he has the experience to pitch in that high-pressure atmosphere. Now, the playoffs are more intense than the Yankees, but Matz showed a lot tonight.

MATZ: Strong impression. (AP)

MATZ: Strong impression. (AP)

After a rocky first inning, which included a leadoff walk, Matz turned in a masterful performance. He went after hitters and pitched ahead in the count. He never pitched afraid.

I like Matz and still think the Mets might have something there as a lefty specialist in the playoffs, but know they won’t go there. Where they might go, and this would be delicious, would be to pass over Matt Harvey because of his “innings limits,’’ and go with Matz.

That would be terrifically ironic.

Also important was the revival of Lucas Duda with a mammoth homer and double. He would have also had a single if not for the shift. The Mets have crushed the ball since the Yoenis Cespedes trade, but widely absent in that power display has been Duda. When the playoffs arrive, they’ll need power from the left side.

Speaking of which, Daniel Murphy hit another clutch homer tonight for the go-ahead run. He also hit a game-tying homer on the last road trip in Atlanta, and prior to that, a key homer in Miami.

Murphy, by the way, is a scream with a great sense of humor. After his triple did you notice how he pushed away third baseman Chase Headley’s glove? Just a funny moment in a tense evening. How can you not love that stuff?

I can’t help but think that with the development of Wilmer Flores as a second baseman, and with David Wright seemingly healthy, the Mets won’t bring back Murphy. That becomes even more probable if they earmark money for Cespedes and their young pictures.

Finally, there was Addison Reed, who has been overpowering in his bid for becoming the seventh-inning answer.

As a devout interleague play hater, I took nothing out of beating the Yankees. However, I saw a lot to like in preparation for October.

Sep 14

If Harvey Remains An Issue, Let Him Go Home

This won’t go over well with many, but so be it: I don’t care if Matt Harvey pitches in the playoffs for the Mets. I don’t care if he pitches for them again this season or not.

This “will he or won’t he?’’ crap is boring with much of it Harvey’s fault. If Harvey wants to pitch that badly in the playoffs, then pitch. The easy thing is to blame agent Scott Boras, which SNY wrongly did last week. Once and for all, eliminate this innings issue. Supposedly this was done when he pitched in Washington.

HARVEY: Won' be throwing tonight. (AP)

HARVEY: Won’ be throwing tonight. (AP)

Harvey didn’t clear things up yesterday in Atlanta, and it will surface Monday when Logan Verrett starts over him against Miami. Harvey is supposed to pitch this weekend against the Yankees, but after that, nobody knows. There’s talk of keeping Harvey in a regular rotation, but have him pitch a half-game, with Sean Gilmartin or Erik Goeddel pitching multiple innings.

How sharp he’ll be in this format, and if he can extend himself again in the playoffs are in question.

The Mets are fortunate to have broken open the NL East. They are also fortunate the Nationals collapsed and might not even finish .500. Imagine what a mess this would be if there was still a race.

When Harvey spoke recently about selecting Boras for a reason, we knew it was to cash in for the bucks during his 2019 free-agent season. That’s fine. That’s his right. That’s his prerogative.

But, if you’re going to take that stance, don’t insult us with how badly you want to pitch this season and in the playoffs. If 180 innings is your ceiling then you, and the Mets, should have handled things differently this season. (He’s at 171.2 innings now.)

The Mets are going out of their way saying Harvey’s innings aren’t a distraction. Maybe they aren’t once the game starts, but we can’t escape hearing about it. This remains an issue as the Mets bear down on their first playoff appearance since 2006 because nothing has been defined.

“We’re all on the same page,’’ Collins said. “We need to get him out there a little more consistently. … If we get in the postseason, we’ve got to have Matt Harvey ready to pitch, and I don’t need him to have 15 days off. So we’ve got to come up with a plan that’s going to get him out there a little bit more.’’

Today is Sept. 14, and now you say you have to come up with a plan? If the Mets had a plan entering the season, they wouldn’t have to be scrambling for one with the playoffs less than four weeks away.

There are many unanswered questions:

Who will be in the playoff rotation? Will it include Jon Niese or Bartolo Colon? If Harvey is there, but limited, will they need to carry an extra reliever at the expense of a position player?

If Harvey goes into the playoffs with too much rust, how will it affect him? It’s the playoffs and one bad start can mean the difference between winter and the next round?

If the Mets advance, what will happen with Harvey in the next round?

With their pitching, the Mets could run the table. But, Harvey is part of that pitching. If they get to the World Series, what is Harvey’s availability?

This is something that shouldn’t be on the Mets’ plate at this point.  If the Mets can’t go into the playoffs without Harvey being an issue, perhaps the best option is to leave him off the playoff roster. This would give him plenty of rest for his start next March in Port St. Lucie.

Sep 08

The Mets 2016 Schedule

The Mets released their 2016 schedule. The first things I look for when the new schedule comes out are the Opening Day opponent, the home opener opponent, and final weekend of the year.

Opening Day is April 4, at Kansas City, which totally stinks. I hate interleague play to begin with, but on  Opening Day it is absurd. In fact, the Mets have two interleague series in April (April 15-17) at Cleveland. This always presents the problems about rescheduling rainouts, or worse, multi-hour rain delays. But, if major league baseball doesn’t care about the comfort and safety of its players, and the comfort of its fans, then I guess I won’t, either.

The home opener is April 8 against Philadelphia. The first homestand has three games each against the Phillies and Marlins. The opener is a Friday and doesn’t have the provision of a built in off day the next day.

Because of the prospect of bad weather, April should be mostly divisional play, which makes rescheduling easier because you know that team will be back. That being said, Cincinnati and San Francisco making their only Citi Field visits in April is also weak.

Besides Kansas City and at Cleveland, interleague play includes the Yankees in back-to-back series (first Citi Field then Yankee Stadium) the first week of August. They also go to Detroit the first week in August and host Chicago the last week in May and Minnesota in mid-September.

Washington comes in May 17-19; July 8-10 and Sept. 2-4.

The Mets have only two West Coast trips, San Diego, Los Angeles and Colorado, May 5-15; Arizona and San Francisco, Aug. 15-21 (they end that trip with three games in St. Louis). From a travel standpoint, they don’t leave the Eastern Time Zone in September. Both scheduling scenarios are huge breaks.

The season ends with back-to-back, three-game series at Miami and Philadelphia. Going under the assumption Atlanta, Miami and Philadelphia will be as bad as they are this season, it is a plus the Mets end of the season with 13 straight games against those three teams. In addition, factoring their records as of today, the Mets have 99 games against teams with losing records.

Starting times have not been announced.

Merry Christmas.


Sep 02

Mets Stay With Niese; Maybe A Good Thing Afterall

On second thought, maybe sticking with Jon Niese could be a good move. After Niese was shelled Tuesday night by the Phillies, I suggested the Mets’ best strategy would be to skip Niese Monday in Washington in favor of Steven Matz and stay with Noah Syndergaard Saturday in Miami.

My reasoning is the Washington game is more important to the Mets’ immediate pennant pursuit than conserving Syndergaard’s innings.

However, manager Terry Collins‘ comments to reporters prior to Wednesday’s game gave me pause.

“This was set down a long time ago,” Collins said. “I’m all done juggling all the pieces. I just told Jon last night when I took him out, ‘OK, you’ve had a couple of bad outings. The next game is the biggest game you’ve ever pitched in your life. So get ready for it.’ ”

Collins stayed with Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada and on Tuesday with Bobby Parnell in large part to show he wasn’t abandoning them. This seems the same decision for Niese.

While beating the Nationals Monday is important, having a confident Niese is also vital down the stretch and into the playoffs. They Mets will need Niese to be at his mental and emotional best when he pitches in September and hopefully October.

The Mets will throw Niese, Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom against the Nationals’ Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmerman and Steven Strasburg. Collins will start deGrom, Bartolo Colon and Matz in Miami.


Aug 09

A Lot Riding On Wright’s Return

I am cautiously optimistic as I post the following: Mets third baseman and captain David Wright will start a rehab assignment Monday with Class A St. Lucie.

Knock on wood. Don’t walk under a ladder. Throw salt over your shoulder. Cross your fingers. Do whatever it takes to get him back to Flushing soon and in one piece.

WRIGHT: A lot riding on rehab. (AP)

WRIGHT: A lot riding on rehab. (AP)

After winning seven straight, the Mets have dropped their last two to the Rays to fall a scant 1.5 games ahead of Washington. I said it yesterday and will say it again, forget the wild card and go for the division. Wright will help immensely in that regard.

Of all their position players, Wright is the one the Mets can ill-afford to lose the most because of what he represents: he’s their best hitter; he’s a team leader; he’s their biggest investment; he represents the Mets past, present and future.

Yes, there’s a lot riding on this.Wright sustained a right hamstring strain Aug. 14 against Philadelphia, and while on the disabled list was subsequently diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal column. After spending most of the summer in Los Angeles undergoing physical therapy, Wright just spent five straight days of baseball activity, which is throwing, fielding grounders and taking batting practice.

What happens tomorrow is what realty counts as it best proximates what he’ll hopefully be doing the remainder of the season and into October – deep into October.

“There’s not much more preparation I can do other than games,’’ Wright told reporters last week when the Mets were in Miami.

Wright’s return is critical to the Mets on a number of fronts. First, if he’s close to form, it gives the Mets’ offense a jumpstart and deepens their bench and batting order.

That’s the most immediate impact.

Secondly, it should help determine the Mets’ offseason priorities: Will they need another third baseman? Will Wright need to change positions? Will a healthy Wright decrease the chances of keeping Daniel Murphy or Kelly Johnson, and possibly Juan Uribe? If Wright can’t make it, was his extension a waste and how will it effect their future spending?

No, this won’t be just a normal roster move when Wright returns. This could be roster, and possibly, franchise defining.