Apr 14

Mets’ Harvey Continues To Struggle

Another Matt Harvey start, another five innings. By all accounts, Harvey has recovered from thoracic outlet surgery. The radar gun registered a high of 95 mph., so velocity is not an issue. Going back to his last nine starts in 2017, Harvey has not worked past the fifth inning in 12 straight starts, dating back to May 28 of last season when he threw six innings in a win at Pittsburgh.

HARVEY: Still struggling. (AP)

HARVEY: Still struggling. (AP)

Harvey vowed this season would be different, and during spring training said: “It’s a completely new year, like I said. My mechanics are completely different, my arm is completely different.”

Unfortunately, the results have been largely the same. Just four times in 19 starts last year did Harvey pitch into the sixth inning or later. Last season, Harvey averaged just under 20 pitches per inning. This year, he’s averaging just under 18 pitches.

That translates to not enough innings pitched and another four innings logged by the bullpen. Tonight, he gave up four runs on eight hits, including two homers, in a 5-1 loss to Milwaukee to snap the Mets’ nine-game winning streak.

I suppose you can blame the cold weather. That’s a contributing factor, but not the entire explanation.

“He has good stuff,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “The strikeouts are there. He didn’t go after it the way I would have liked. He couldn’t get it going. I didn’t see the confidence that he’s had in the past.”

To his credit, Harvey made no excuses. He didn’t blame the weather, lack of support from his offense or lack of luck, all of which he has done in the past.

“Not very good,” was how Harvey assessed his outing. “I have to be better. This loss was on me. It is frustrating. I have to take my 24 hours and be pissed about it, then move on.

“Keeping the bullpen out of it is something I have to do. I would rather it be two innings at the end of the game and not four. All and all, I have to be better.”

Oct 02

How About Collins Overseeing Mets’ Minor League System?

GM Sandy Alderson said Terry Collins is best suited to work in player development. If that is the case, and Alderson is telling the truth that he believes Collins has a lot to offer and he wants to continue working with him, then there is one role for him, and that is to oversee the minor league system with the goal of implementing a “Mets Way.’’

Both Alderson and Collins suggested a need for such a program in recent weeks. Collins did in a roundabout way several weeks ago when commenting about Amed Rosario’s habit of tapping his glove with the ball before throwing to first. That habit cost the Mets a game and Collins wondered why it wasn’t addressed in Las Vegas.

Alderson more conceded the need for such an instructor when he noted several of the Mets’ rookies came to New York with a multitude of bad habits.

Rosario’s habit and Dominic Smith’s brain cramps are just two of the most prevalent. There are others, beginning with pitchers’ inability to throw strikes, and including hitters’ plate discipline, atrocious base running and defensive fundamentals, such as hitting the cutoff man.

Situational hitting and improving on-base percentage also must be improved.

The idea is to teach, beginning with the rookie leagues the same things are expected from the major leaguers.

That way there are no surprises.

However, for this to work Alderson must first implement organizational philosophies on offense and pitching. The pitchers have to be taught to throw inside, the way Rafael Montero was when he was on his hot streak.

Too many of the Mets’ hitters are preoccupied with hitting home runs. Sure, home runs are great, but consider this, the Mets tied Milwaukee for the NL lead with 224 homers, but neither are in the playoffs.

Aug 12

Walker Is Latest Former Met

The last time the Mets nearly traded an infielder to Milwaukee produced the iconic snapshot of Wilmer Flores crying at his shortstop position. There was no such image tonight with the breaking news the Mets had traded Neil Walker to the Brewers for a player to be named later.

Tonight’s optic was a video of Walker leaving the Mets’ clubhouse in a golf cart, presumably to the team hotel to pack before flying to Milwaukee to join a pennant race.

WALKER: Another good one is gone. (AP)

                               WALKER: Another good one is gone. (AP)

By the time the Mets lost to the Phillies, 3-1, the deal had not yet been announced.

Despite playing with significant injuries – and undergoing back surgery last offseason – Walker was a consummate professional, just as Jay Bruce was, and exceeded his run production expectations since acquiring him after the 2015 season from Pittsburgh.

Walker, acquired when the Mets didn’t re-sign Daniel Murphy after his historic 2015 postseason, hit 23 homers last year in an injury-shortened 2016. After not drawing interest in the free-agent market, Walker signed a $17.2-million qualifying offer last winter.

At one point this season the Mets said they’d consider bringing back Walker, but such talk quickly died on the vine as their season slipped away.

With a glut of infielders, there was no way the Mets would bring him back, and since players-to-be-named are mostly bottom-tier prospects at best, this was nothing more than a salary dump, even with them picking up a portion of the remaining $4.7 million left on Walker’s contract.

The Mets were close to trading Walker to the Yankees at the July 31 deadline, but the latter backed out reportedly concerned with his medical records. In addition to his back surgery in the winter, Walker missed six weeks this season with a hamstring injury.

A season that began with such optimism continued to unravel for the Mets. A team many thought could return to the World Series, has rid itself of Walker, Bruce, Addison Reed and Lucas Duda, in addition to losing for long periods on the disabled list of David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud and Jeurys Familia.

Jul 27

Interest In Mets’ Assets As Trade Deadline Nears

Once again, the Mets haven’t been able to trade Jay Bruce, and that could turn out to be a good thing. Bruce’s year suggest he could bring a lot in return, and even he said the “Mets would be crazy,’’ not to trade him. That could help the Mets in the long run if they are able to re-sign him in the offseason.

Reportedly, Colorado had interest in both him and Addison Reed, but they likely won’t move on the latter after acquiring All-Star closer Pat Neshek from the Phillies for three prospects.

BRUCE: Little interest. (AP)

BRUCE: Little interest. (AP)

Perhaps the Rockies won’t be able to meet whatever the Mets are asking for after what they paid in prospects for Neshek. The Mets say they believe they will be able to compete next season, so that means they prefer players who are major league ready. However, the Rockies, who would be in the wild-card if the season ended today, won’t want to weaken their current 25-man roster by trading multiple players for Bruce.

From his perspective, Bruce, who has 25 homers, knows he could be an asset to a team, and recently told Newsday, “I feel like this is the most consistent I’ve been, which is huge. I pride myself on playing every single day, preparing, being ready to go, being the guy you can count on to post, and being a quality piece to a winning team. Individually this year, so far I’ve done that.’’

Bruce, a free agent this offseason, will make $5 million over the balance of this year. That, plus a player, could make for an expensive rental. It also must be remembered that Bruce’s production must be replaced if the Mets are to be competitive in 2018.

Whether the money goes to Bruce or his replacement, it should cost more than the $13 million he is getting this year.

Not surprisingly, Reed has drawn the most interest as closers always generate a premium. The Mets have also received calls about Reed from Milwaukee, the Dodgers and Boston.

Reed will also be a free agent this winter, and with how well he’s replaced Jeurys Familia, will likely command a contract in excess of the $7.75 million he’s making this year. The Mets are hoping Familia, who is making $7.425 million this offseason, will rebound from surgery to remove a blood clot in his shoulder, and won’t want to spend over a combined $15 million for the back end of their bullpen.

Of course, if they expect to contend, they’ll need to replace Reed, and there’s no guarantee Familia will return to his 40-save form.

In addition to Reed, Boston inquired into Asdrubal Cabrera, because they are unsold on 20-year-old prospect Rafael Devers at third base. T.J. Rivera and Wilmer Flores are also on Boston’s radar.

Also, calling the Mets are the Chicago Cubs, who are asking about Seth Lugo and catcher Rene Rivera.

Lugo is 5-2 with a 4.10 ERA in eight starts, with the last three being defined as quality starts [at least three runs in six innings or more]. Lugo came up in the second half last year to help the Mets get into the playoffs.

He entered spring training this season as depth for the Mets’ “young and vaunted rotation,’’ but started the year on the disabled list after being injured in the World Baseball Classic.

However, considering Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman currently on the disabled list, and Steven Matz pitching poorly, the Mets shouldn’t be all that eager to deal Lugo.

The Cubs’ interest in Rivera stems from cutting ties with Miguel Montero in early July.

There has been no reported no to little interest in first baseman Lucas Duda, outfielder Curtis Granderson and infielder Jose Reyes.

The Mets hope things could change between now and Monday.

 

Jul 21

Here’s Hoping Flores Gets Traded

It was two years ago next week when Wilmer Flores carved out a niche in Mets lore when he openly wept on the field after hearing a report he had been traded. Flores endeared himself to Mets fans everywhere that night because he showed the fans he was a player who genuinely wanted to play here.

How could you not cheer for a guy like that? How can you not cheer for a guy who showed such human emotions?

FLORES: The night he became a Mets' icon.  (AP)

FLORES: The night he became a Mets’ icon. (AP)

The trade to Milwaukee fell through and he remained in Queens, but his situation only briefly changed for the better regarding playing time. Off the field, there was still a shameful lack of respect from GM Sandy Alderson, who made him a butt of jokes on his stand up tour, and manager Terry Collins, who never trusted him enough to give him a position full-time.

However, in those moments when he did play – when Lucas Duda and David Wright were injured – Flores showed streaky power. He did so again yesterday with a pinch-hit homer in the win over St. Louis.

I always liked Flores, even before the tears, and openly advocated the Mets work him into a regular playing rotation. Now, I want the Mets to trade him. To Boston. To Houston. To Milwaukee, again. To any team where he’ll get a chance to play.

The Mets will soon move out Asdrubal Cabrera to make room for, and keep him away from, Amed Rosario. And, maybe they’ll trade Duda to make room for Dominic Smith. Neil Walker will soon be coming off the disabled list, and a midseason slump cost Flores his at-bats in favor of T.J. Rivera.

And, Flores? He’ll get moved to the bench where we won’t see him for ten more days. Collins never gave Flores a chance to work his way out of his slump; he wouldn’t work Flores into a rotation when all the infielders were coming off some kind of injury; he’ll bury him again.

Ken Davidoff, the talented baseball columnist for The New York Post, quoted a baseball scout on Flores and Rivera: “I like them more as fringe everyday players. Maybe guys you plug in for two weeks, or maybe even two months. But I wouldn’t be comfortable with them in a six-month situation for the full season.’’

That’s understandable because Flores has never been given more than a month to play. He tore things up earlier this season, then, like all players eventually do, tailed off. Hey, even Aaron Judge has cooled.

That’s the essence of a full baseball season. There will be stretches where everything falls in and others where even scorched balls are caught. His defense has never been good, but couldn’t that because he’s never been given a fulltime position? That’s the same way it was with Daniel Murphy.

Nobody knows what Flores can do for a full season because he’s never gotten the chance. Collins and Alderson put him in position where he’s always looking over his shoulder.

Flores can play adequately anywhere in the infield and has shown he can hit right-handed pitching. He can tear up lefties.

Flores was a valuable piece in the playoff runs of 2015 and 2016, and surely, can help a contender. Boston is in desperate need of a third baseman and the Yankees can still use a first baseman.

Flores can help either, but the hope here is he is traded by the deadline to a team that appreciates his value and will let him play.

Give him 550 at-bats before you tell me he can’t play.