Apr 21

Plawecki Era Begins As Mets Roll

We all knew the New York Mets would bring up catcher Kevin Plawecki this season. Unfortunately for Travis d’Arnaud, we didn’t think it would be before May.

Opportunities come in the strangest places, and Plawecki got his Tuesday night with d’Arnaud’s fractured right hand. He not only was in the line-up, but will also have the fulltime job until … whenever.

PLAWECKI: Good start in debut. (AP)

PLAWECKI: Good start in debut. (AP)

Reportedly, d’Arnaud will be out for at least three weeks. A lot can happen between now and then, but it is hard to believe Plawecki – two hits notwithstanding and his flawless handling of Jon Niese – will light it up in that span to where the Mets will decide he is the answer and d’Arnaud will be thought of in the past tense.

“I think I’ve taken some good strides in the right direction,’’ said Plawecki, who ripped a single to left in the Mets’ four-run fifth for his first major league hit. “Obviously, everything is still a work in progress, but I think I’ve come a long way.’’

It’s great he has confidence, but can we tone down the hysteria just a bit? If Plawecki, who was hitting just .216 with six RBI at Triple-A Las Vegas, is already better than d’Arnaud, he would have been brought up before now.

Manager Terry Collins said the Mets have had a good feeling about Plawecki, and that was before tonight’s 7-1 rout of Atlanta for their ninth straight victory.

“We all felt in spring training that if we lost Travis we would have something coming,” Collins said. “He’s going to be a big league player for a long time.”

However, can we stop with the Wally Pipp analogies? As with Matt Harvey, can we let him do something before putting him into the Hall of Fame? However, if Plawecki plays well, it could lead to some interesting scenarios. For example, would the Mets carry both and send out Anthony Recker?

Would they feel good enough about the impression Plawecki makes to prompt them to trade d’Arnaud? Probably not enough during this season, but perhaps to where it could help shape their off-season strategy.

However, as a catcher, there’s more than at the plate where the Mets are curious about Plawecki’s development. There’s also the matter of his ability to handle pitchers, play defense and throw out potential base stealers.

“I’m happy to get the first one out of the way and that we came out of it with a win,” said Plawecki, who plans to give the ball from his first hit to his parents, who were at the game. “I was happy to be able to contribute, and Niese made it easy for me.”

Plawecki, the Mets’ 2012 first-round pick, also said what most rookies say when they first come up, and that is he’s playing the same game he has been playing his entire life.

Well, not exactly, although tonight was pretty damn close.

Apr 20

Harvey Again Calling The Shots

It dawns on me how the New York Mets can prevent Matt Harvey from leaving for another team when he becomes a free agent. I should have thought of this earlier. They should fire Terry Collins and make Harvey a pitcher-manager.

Why not?

HARVEY: Good to  be king. (ESPN).

HARVEY: Good to be king. (ESPN).

After after hearing the details from Sunday’s start, and Harvey’s previous track record, it seems obvious he’s calling the shots.

All spring we heard how the Mets were going to protect Harvey this summer, yet there was no definitive plan orchestrated by GM Sandy Alderson and Collins. We were told they were going to play it by ear and limit his innings.

There was no plan because the Mets didn’t want to rock the boat out of fear of upsetting the dear boy.

So, what happens the first time there was a chance to push him back a start for health reasons? Why of course, they did nothing. They let Harvey pitch when he was sick, thereby blowing a chance to preserve his workload.

As Harvey told the story Sunday: “I woke up. I can’t swallow. At that point, not sleeping and coming to the park. I texted one of the trainers and told him I’m coming in and not feeling great. … The last two days not feeling great and today was the worse. Took some antibiotics. Can’t swallow. Felt weak, rundown.”

Harvey continued: “The last thing I want to do is give up the start.”

Of course, Harvey’s competitive nature is to be admired, but once again his judgment must be questioned, especially since he believes he might has strep throat (according to The Daily News).

If this had been lingering as Harvey said, then it leads to several questions:

* Why wasn’t he sent home Friday or Saturday when it was first coming on?

* If Harvey does have strep throat, why expose him to his teammates, so they might not catch it?

* Since Harvey reportedly called at 7:30 Sunday morning, why wasn’t he told to just stay home?

* Collins reportedly said he didn’t have a contingency plan. How can this be if Harvey had been ailing? Why wasn’t somebody on call from Class AA Binghamton, which isn’t that far away?

* Carlos Torres has been used in a pinch before. Why not this time?

* OK, Harvey wants to pitch, I understand that, but isn’t there anybody in authority with the stones to just say NO to the guy?

* Yes, Harvey got to pitch, but why let him work past the fifth inning, especially since he had a 7-1 lead?

Collins said: “When he called at 7:30 [Sunday], there was a chance he wasn’t going to start. When he got here he said, `Listen, I don’t feel very good, I’m going to pitch and go as far as I can.’ ”

That’s Collins quoting Harvey. One final question, why didn’t Collins act like a manager and tell him to go home?

 

Apr 19

Mets’ Mettle To Be Tested Again

Playoff-caliber teams must overcome adversity and the New York Mets will be tested again.

It was a bad day all around for the Mets despite winning their eighth straight game today, 7-6 over Miami. They not only had bad luck with injuries to Travis d’Arnaud and Jerry Blevins, but also a dose of bad managing.

Let’s start with the bad luck.

D'ARNAUD: Fractured arm. (AP)

D’ARNAUD: Fractured arm. (AP)

It began in the seventh inning when the lefty reliever, Blevins, took a line drive off the bat of Dee Gordon and sustained a fractured left arm. He will be out indefinitely. In the bottom of the inning, Travis d’Arnaud – who was off to a sizzling start – fractured his right hand when he was struck by a fastball from A.J. Ramos. He is also out indefinitely.

As for the bad managing, Matt Harvey was sick, but Terry Collins started him anyway. With his innings carefully monitored this season, here was a perfect opportunity to preserve some of those innings. They gave away a freebie that doesn’t come around often.

If nothing else, Harvey had a 7-1 lead after the fifth. So, why pitch him into the seventh? That made no sense. Collins rested the hot Michael Cuddyer citing the big picture. Why didn’t he apply the same logic with Harvey?

So, where do the Mets go from here?

They have two other lefty relievers in Sean Gilmartin and Alex Torres, but lefty hitters were 0-for-14 against Blevins (who recovered to get Gordon with a glove-hand flip). Hansel Robles will be brought up to replace Blevins. As for d’Arnaud, who is hitting .317 and had two hits before leaving the game, he will be replaced by prospect Kevin Plawecki, who is off to a slow start at Triple-A Las Vegas.

Injuries have already hit the Mets hard, with Zack Wheeler and Josh Edgin lost for the season after Tommy John surgery, and David Wright, Vic Black and Bobby Parnell on the disabled list. Wright is resuming activity, but Black had a setback in a rehab assignment.

The injuries tarnished the Mets’ 10-3 sterling silver start – Detroit is the only other team with double-digit victories – but what is important now is how they respond.

Sometimes, season-defining tests come early.

 

 

Apr 18

Mets Aim To Continue Streak Behind DeGrom

It is no secret I am not a fan of the New York Mets’ batting order, but as a baseball traditionalist I know this much, you don’t screw around with a hot streak and the Mets are going after their seventh straight win tonight against Miami.

That means Curtis Granderson leading off, Travis d’Arnaud batting second and Juan Lagares seventh.

The Mets have to feel good about number seven because they’ll be giving the ball to Jacob deGrom, who is a lifetime 2-0 with a 1.67 ERA in four starts against Miami. He’s struck out 34 in 27 innings in those four games.

In his last start, deGrom threw 6.1 scoreless innings in a 2-0 victory over Philadelphia on Opening Day.

Said d’Arnaud: “He’s a special, special pitcher. He’s got great stuff, and most of all he’s got heart. He showed it (Monday), when he went out there and battled.’’

Here’s tonight’s batting order:

Curtis Granderson, RF

Travis d’Arnaud

Lucas Duda, 1B

Michael Cuddyer, LF

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Eric Campbell, 3B

Juan Lagares, CF

Wilmer Flores, SS

Jacob deGrom, RHP

Apr 18

Circumstances Point To Gee Departure

The math adds up to the conclusion the New York Mets – two weeks into the season – are ready to move on from Dillon Gee.

Gee gave the Mets the required innings in two unimpressive starts, but recent circumstances conspired to making it impossible for them to allow him time to work out his problems and fall into a groove.

GEE: On thin ice. (Getty)

GEE: On thin ice. (Getty)

GM Sandy Alderson finally realized the Mets can’t exist with a four-man bench so they promoted utility infielder Danny Muno.

Well, to bring him up, somebody had to go down, but whom?

The Mets like Rafael Montero’s upside as a starter more than out of the bullpen, where he has a 4.15 ERA in four appearances, and with Vic Black and Bobby Parnell about to come off the disabled list, he was the logical one.

In conjunction with Montero’s demotion, the Mets say he will be stretched out so he can be used as a starter April 28 against Miami. The Mets also said Montero could get more than one start, and since they will not go to a six-man rotation more than one time, and a trade not imminent, where does that leave Gee?

They currently have seven relievers, and with Black, and then, Parnell, to be activated that would require two moves. Buddy Carlyle and Erik Goeddel are the most logical, or one of the three left-handers could also go.

A third reliever would have to go down if the Mets opt to use Gee in long relief, but that hasn’t seriously been discussed. Maybe they’ll send him down, or trade him for next to nothing, or just release him.

Several days ago I wrote why I admired Gee and those reasons still stand. However, it really doesn’t matter because it figures he won’t be around much longer.