May 06

Mets Do Right Thing And Will Skip DeGrom

The Mets did two things right during their lost homestand. The first was long overdue when they designated Matt Harvey for assignment Friday. There hasn’t been a hint of remorse or regret from the Mets, or words of being missed by his former teammates.

The second came prior to the Rockies completing their sweep of the Mets today with the announcement – perhaps overdue, but certainly expected – Jacob deGrom will miss tomorrow’s start in Cincinnati.

This came the day after the Mets said he would stay in the rotation.

“The more and more we thought about it, we have to make sure that he’s totally fine,” manager Mickey Callaway told reporters. “He feels no pain and he wanted to pitch tomorrow.”

Coming up from Triple-A Las Vegas to take deGrom’s spot in the rotation against Cincinnati will be P.J. Conlon, who is killing it with a 1-2 record and 6.75 ERA in five starts this season. Last season, at Double-A Binghamton, he was 8-9 with a 3.38 ERA.

DeGrom is 3-0 with a 1.87 ERA in seven starts for the Mets.

“I said I felt like I could go, but I think the bigger picture is what we’re looking at,” deGrom said. “If you go out there and something happens, you end up missing five starts, vs. skipping one and making sure everything is fine. After talking to them, I understand the decision. Erring on the side of caution is what we’re doing.”

DeGrom will throw a 50-pitch bullpen session Tuesday, but will have intermittent rest to simulate real game conditions. Barring a setback, he will throw a bullpen session Friday before his next start.

DeGrom was injured swinging a bat last Wednesday against Atlanta.

 

May 05

No Empathy For Harvey

Mickey Callaway was generous when he said, “we failed Matt Harvey.’’ In actuality, Harvey failed himself, with help from the Mets. Sometimes, when a pitcher loses his fastball, or a slugger’s bat slows down, the end can be delayed by his track record, or his popularity in the clubhouse, or the goodwill garnered within the organization.

It’s why the Mets were patient with Johan Santana and David Wright. Harvey accrued none of that goodwill. None.

Because of their histories, you root for some players. You have empathy and compassion for them.

Maybe only Harvey’s family and agent have empathy for him. I can’t imagine anybody pleased Harvey’s career was derailed by injuries, including two season-ending surgeries.

However, it is the way Harvey carried himself and alienated his teammates, how he made himself bigger than the team, how he made everything about him, that has him alone and without any emotional support in his darkest professional hour.

Perhaps that, more than his injuries, is what makes this a modern-day Greek Tragedy. It’s difficult to show compassion for somebody who showed little for anybody else.

Harvey’s selfishness was never more transparent than it was when he bullied former manager Terry Collins into giving him the ninth inning in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. I don’t know how any of Harvey’s teammates that night can condone Harvey’s actions that night.

What happened the night he traveled two hours from San Diego to Los Angeles for a restaurant opening the night before a game, was not advisable although not technically wrong. However, Harvey’s penchant for enjoying the nightlife has already run him afoul with the Mets’ front office and teammates.

Why – other than selfishness – would Harvey chase fates? That GM Sandy Alderson sounded resigned Harvey would do such a thing spoke volumes. Alderson didn’t have to say he was fed up with Harvey. It was implied.

Harvey wasn’t worth the energy to get angry about any longer.

In previous years the Mets bent over backward to placate Harvey, and a case could be made they enabled his boorish behavior by not standing up to him.

It took a while, but it is about time.

May 03

Mets Get Positive DeGrom News, But Should Be Cautious

When it comes to Mets pitching injuries, I’ve always said: Bet the over.

One day after Jacob deGrom left Wednesday’s game with a hyperextended right elbow, the Mets cleared him to make his next start after an MRI revealed no ligament damage.

We should know more after he throws Friday in preparation for Monday’s game.

“There’s nothing wrong with him,’’ manager Mickey Callaway told reporters prior to today’s game against Atlanta. “He’s gonna try to make his start on Monday.’’

While that’s positive news, I can’t help but think of the times the Mets were encouraged with Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard before they went down long time.

DeGrom said he felt something after swinging at a pitch in the bottom of the third inning Wednesday. He pitched the top of the fourth then left the game.

Seriously, don’t you remember the Mets’ history dealing with injuries? What would it hurt to push him back at start to be sure? That would be better than losing him for the season.

When asked about possible replacements, Callaway did mention Harvey, but Harvey shouldn’t get that chance until the Mets are convinced he’s ready. So far, he hasn’t been sterling out of the pen.

Apr 24

It’s Up To Harvey If Bullpen Works

Dave Righetti did it. So did Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz. Now, can Matt Harvey make the transition from the rotation to the bullpen? Harvey’s initial response – that he’s pissed off – wasn’t a positive sign, but his subsequent comments are more encouraging.

HARVEY: It's up to him.. (AP)

HARVEY: It’s up to him.. (AP)

Harvey, who will be available coming out of the bullpen starting Tuesday, was not happy about the decision.

“It’s the decision that they made,’’ Harvey told reporters. “I have to suck it up and go out there and do everything I can to get things back in gear. I don’t have to agree with it, but I have to go out there and do the best I can to get things going and do everything I can to help this team get back to where I believe I can help this team, and that’s as a starter.’’

Whether he makes it back as a starter remains to be seen, and actually is irrelevant. If Harvey concentrates solely on being a reliever, long or short, it might enhance his value this offseason.

The way the market was last year, relievers were signed earliest and that hold true next winter, as well.

Harvey doesn’t throw as hard as he used to – he’s gone from 96.5 mph., in 2015 to 92.6 mph., this season, which is acceptable for the pen, as long as the pitcher has secondary pitches, which he does.

Former Mets GM Jim Duquette, currently a commentator for SNY, said it is common when a starter moves to the pen that his velocity will increase. And, Harvey has a good enough slider. By all accounts, Harvey has the physical tools and his problem is psychological.

If the Mets concentrate on starting Harvey at the beginning of an inning and limit him getting up and down, he should get the appropriate warm-up time.

Physically, Harvey can do this. If he has the proper attitude and meets with success, this could be the start of the second part of his career. Others have done it, such as Cleveland’s Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer [so Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland] have the experience in helping pitchers make the transition].

If Harvey stops thinking about starting and concentrates on being the best reliever possible, it could work. It’s up to him.

Apr 22

Harvey “Pissed Off” At Bullpen Demotion. Suck It Up, Big Boy

Matt Harvey said he’s “pissed off” at losing his spot in the rotation and having to go to the bullpen. Well, guess what, I’m sure many of Harvey’s teammates and coaches, not to mention his former manager Terry Collins, and countless Mets’ fans, are pissed off from having to Harvey’s selfishness and wasted talents over the past few years.

I understand injuries, but enough is enough. Harvey has been demoted from the rotation – honestly, I didn’t think manager Mickey Callaway would to it. But, even in bumping him from the rotation the Mets made it a point to say this was not punishment, but a temporary move.

“I want to make it clear: This is less about making Matt a reliever and more about getting him back to being a productive starter,” assistant general manager John Ricco said. “Honestly, one of the reasons we brought in Mickey and [pitching coach] Dave Eiland were for their knowledge and expertise in this area. We have a lot of faith and confidence in what they’re able to do.”

Harvey was full of praise for Callaway when he was first hired, but now when the first-year manager makes a move against him, he’s full of the same old “me first’’ attitude that has highlighted his 34-37, injury-marred, controversial career.

Sure, Harvey can’t be happy with how his career has unraveled, but it’s up to him to suck it up, not talk about being pissed off at the Mets and his situation.

Why was this even a big deal? If he was a real team guy, when this started boiling over he should have gone to Callaway and said, “I suck. What do you want me to do?’’

Of course, him saying he has to “do whatever I have to do to get back in the starting rotation,’’ just illustrates how little interest he has in helping the Mets.

Typical Harvey and I’m counting the days until he’s gone.