Apr 20

Matt Harvey’s Star Keeps Burning

Tom Seaver. Mike Mussina. Roger Clemens. Dwight Gooden.

Matt Harvey has been compared, whether it be stuff, demeanor or franchise history, in some way has been compared to them all.

Yes, it is not fair. Yes, it places unreasonable pressure. But, that’s the nature of covering and following sports. Managers, general managers and players all do it, too.

HARVEY: Keeps burning. (AP)

HARVEY: Keeps burning. (AP)

Harvey is getting a lot of that these days, and after beating Stephen Strasburg last night, he’ll be getting more.

Gooden, who tweeted Harvey is “the real deal,’’ was spotted last night on the Citi Field video board giving a thumbs-up sign. It was in part acknowledging the ovation; it was in part recognition of who he was watching.

“Yeah, absolutely,’’ Harvey said when asked if he was aware of Gooden’s presence and tweet. “It made it special. I grew up watching that guy. I wanted to be like that guy.’’

Whether Harvey has a career like Gooden, Mussina or Mike Pelfrey, we can’t say now. What we can say is all the arrows are pointed in the right direction.

“A lot of guys can throw 98,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “I like his competitive make-up. … Fear of failure is not in Matt Harvey’s make-up.’’

Harvey doesn’t just want to be a good pitcher; he wants to be the best. Collins said Harvey was in tune with the expectations of going against Strasburg, and the Mets’ present and future ace admitted to being amped early.

When it was over, Harvey was all humility – one of his more likable qualities – when asked about the “Har-vey’s better, Har-vey’s better,’’ chant that consumed Citi Field.

Harvey, in his first full season, is composed enough to know he’ll face Strasburg many more times in the future, and the Mets play the Nationals 18 times a season. This isn’t the NBA; there’s no trash talking. Harvey knew better than to stir the pot.

“It’s nice to hear, but I’ve got a long way to go,’’ Harvey said. “I appreciate the fans and the support and all that. But we’re here to win. We’re the New York Mets. It’s not just one guy out there. Every time I take the ball I’m trying to win for the team.’’

That all sound good, but Harvey knows words are cheap and he has to do it on the mound. That’s why Harvey was more satisfied with getting out of a bases-load, no-outs jam in the seventh rather than the two-hit shutout he had after the sixth.

“I knew I would have to pitch there,’’ Harvey said. “I knew I would have to throw strikes.’’

The Mets took a 4-0 lead into the inning, but the panic meter was running high when the Nationals had a run in and loaded the bases. Harvey knew what was required of him.

“That was a big challenge – bases loaded with no outs,’’ Harvey said. “That’s a tough lineup. At any point it felt like it could unravel and things could have gone the other way.’’

It didn’t because Harvey wouldn’t let it.

“That’s the mark of an ace right there,’’ Collins said. “That’s why we can’t say enough things about him. Games like this can lead to a great season.’’

Harvey has a strong work ethic, but that runs deeper than conditioning and working on his breaking pitches in the bullpen. Not only does Harvey work his body, but also his mind and that’s part of the package.

Harvey pitched seven innings last night in improving to 4-0. His goal is over 200, so there’s a long road ahead.

“I’m going to take the 24-hour rule and definitely be happy about this start and this win,’’ Harvey said. “And after it’s over, tomorrow, it’s time to work hard and get prepared for the next start.’’

They said Seaver once said the same in comparing Harvey to him. Perhaps one day they’ll say that about another hot property when they compare him to Harvey.

Mar 13

No More Auditioning, Matt Harvey Has The Role

harvey-2It’s not exactly the variety of a film festival when watching the Mets in spring training. It’s the Nationals, Braves, Marlins and Cardinals on a rotating basis. For the Mets in Port St. Lucie, it’s like watching the same episodes of Seinfeld over and over. After awhile, you know how ``The Contest’’ will end.

For a young guy like Matt Harvey working on a pitch, those teams don’t have to worry about the film as they can see him first hand. I’ve always wondered if that’s a disadvantage to the pitcher.Johan Santana once made his final exhibition start against a minor league team rather that against the Marlins, a team he would face in the first week.

Harvey is busy working on his change-up, which was flawless in his last start. He has no choice but to keep throwing against a team he could face five times this season.

“It’s usually the last pitch that comes around,’’ he said. “Everything went well with all my pitches the other day.’’

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Oct 26

Wishful thinking to think Yankees’ fans chased away Cliff Lee

It is wishful thinking to think the reported boorish behavior of Yankees fans toward Cliff Lee’s wife during the ALCS will keep the talented left-hander out of the Bronx.

THE LEE FAMILY: NYC could still be home.

It certainly won’t enhance the Mets’ chances.

There are several factors – some still to happen – that will determine where Lee ends up this winter. The Yankees long appeared to be the frontrunners to land Lee, and that still holds true because they have the ability to write the largest checks.

Lee was traded by Cleveland, Philadelphia and Seattle in large part because those teams weren’t going to re-sign Lee. Now, there’s no guarantee Texas will, either, regardless of what happens in the World Series.

“Lee wants to go through the free agent process,” one agent said. “He may very well stay in Texas, but he’s going to test the market.”

Lee has not been quoted as saying he won’t play in New York, for either the Yankees or Mets, so until he does we can’t eliminate the market. Lee will surely not rip New York over this because it will reduce his leverage in the free-agent market.

Because of the tax situation in New York in comparison to Texas, a New York team would have to blow the Rangers out of the water to land him. Reports have been the package would have to be $20 million to $40 million greater in New York to compensate for the tax issue.

Neither the Mets nor Yankees have established their budgets for 2011, but it is a solid assumption the Yankees’ will be far greater.

Small town Mike Mussina was no great fan of New York when he played with the Orioles, but in the end he left for New York and adapted. As much as Lee might be a country boy, if the Yankees’ offer is far superior to that from Texas or another team, he could still end up with the Yankees.

In comparison to the Mets, the Yankees can offer more money and a better chance to immediately win. That speaks volumes. And, the Yankees can offer a lot of financial love to apologize for their boorish, entitled fans.

And, when it comes to free agency, money usually speaks loudest.

Nov 22

Loose Threads

A lot of things floating on in my mind these days.

-Congratulations to Mike Mussina for retiring on his terms. Part of me wishes he’d stay for 300 wins. But another part – a greater part – admires him for doing it his way. It doesn’t happen often. Will he get my Hall of Fame vote? Yes.

-I see where Hank Steinbrenner gave an ultimatum for the Yankees to sign CC Sabathia. I’d like to see Fred Wilpon do the same with a closer.

-The Mets seem torn between Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes. That should tell you of the concerns for K-Rod. And, concerns at this time are valid. I’d stay away, go with Fuentes and use the rest of the money that would have gone to K-Rod go for depth in the pen.

-Luis Castillo is staying to play second base. That seems apparent now. Their thinking is to hope for a comeback. It beats paying somebody to take him away.

-There doesn’t seem like a groundswell of support to keep either Oliver Perez or Pedro Martinez.

Oct 10

Who gets the ball?

Would you give Sabathia all that money?

Would you give Sabathia all that money?

The Mets are staring at two holes in their rotation with the possible losses of Oliver Perez and Pedro Martinez. The free-agent market has options with CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett. So, you’re Omar. Who gets the money? Would you give Sabathia $150 million?

Do you re-sign either Perez or Martinez and go elsewhere?
Do you re-sign both Perez and Martinez?
Do you go elsewhere to fill both holes?
Do you give the ball to Jon Niese for the season and take your lumps?

THE FREE AGENT MARKET FOR STARTING PITCHERS

Kris Benson (33)
A.J. Burnett (32) – can opt out after ’08 season
Paul Byrd (38)
Roger Clemens (46)
Matt Clement (33)

Bartolo Colon (36)
Ryan Dempster (32)
Shawn Estes (36)
Josh Fogg (32)
Freddy Garcia (33)

Jon Garland (29)
Tom Glavine (43)
Mike Hampton (36)
Mark Hendrickson (35)
Livan Hernandez (34)

Orlando Hernandez (43)
Jason Jennings (30)
Randy Johnson (45)
John Lackey (30) – $9MM club option for ’09 with a $0.5MM buyout
Jon Lieber (39)

Braden Looper (34)
Rodrigo Lopez (33) – club option for ’09
Derek Lowe (36)
Greg Maddux (43)
Pedro Martinez (37)

Sergio Mitre (28)
Jamie Moyer (46)
Mark Mulder (31) – $11MM club option for ’09 with a $1.5MM buyout
Mike Mussina (40)
Carl Pavano (33) – $13MM club option for ’09 with a $1.95MM buyout

Brad Penny (31) – $8.75MM club option for ’09 with a $2MM buyout
Odalis Perez (32)
Oliver Perez (27)
Andy Pettitte (37)
Sidney Ponson (32)

Mark Prior (27)
Kenny Rogers (44)
Glendon Rusch (34)
C.C. Sabathia (28)
Curt Schilling (42)

Ben Sheets (30)
John Smoltz (42)
Tim Wakefield (42) – perpetual $4MM club option
Kip Wells (32)
Randy Wolf (32)