Apr 22

Mets Playing Like A Team You Can Love

Eventually, the New York Mets will lose a game, but for now the ride is terrific. The Mets won their tenth straight game tonight, 3-2 over Atlanta, and did it in a manner that makes you admire with how this is all coming together.

They are playing like “a perfect ten.”

FLORES: Big night. (AP)

FLORES: Big night. (AP)

The Mets are 12-3, a lofty record they haven’t seen since 1986, when they rolled through the National League to win the World Series. That team was loaded with stars that won in a braggart, in-your-face style. In spring training then-manager Davey Johnson said his team would dominate.

It’s not that way this year. Of those dozen wins, seven have been of the come-from-behind variety. There’s been a minimum of power, but these guys are playing the game the right way and have overcome a string of injuries to put themselves on top of the National League East.

It should be interesting when the Washington Nationals come to town.

“I really believe winning is contagious,” manager Terry Collins said. “Everybody wants to contribute and be a part of it.”

Tonight included a leaping catch by Ruben Tejada to stunt a potential big inning and reliever Buddy Carlyle got a huge out from the bullpen.

However, it all began with Dillon Gee – who was pitching for his spot in the rotation – giving up two runs in seven innings. That’s a quality game by any definition. The Mets sent down Rafael Montero to stretch him out, and Gee, whom was on the trading block this winter, could be the odd man out. They’ll go with a six-man rotation once, but after that, it’s not encouraging for Gee.

Gee fell behind twice, but the Mets came from behind each time to tie the game. The first time was on Wilmer Flores‘ single and the second came on his homer. Flores began the season as a question mark, but is having a good start and has fielded his position well enough to where it is not an issue.

How they won tonight it was delightful to watch, beginning with pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson drawing a leadoff walk in the bottom of the eighth. Collins rarely calls a hit-and-run, but did so with Juan Lagares, who dribbled the ball into right field. A criticism of Lagares is he doesn’t handle the bat well, but he was flawless here.

Then Lucas Duda, who is off to a blistering start at the plate, went to the opposite field with a game-winning single.

In the end Jeurys Familia blew way the Braves in a 1-2-3 ninth.

There was more, including Lagares’ extra-base hit robbing catch in the seventh that kept Gee in for that inning. In addition to Familia, the bullpen again was solid. At one time the bullpen was a concern, but even without Jerry Blevins they are producing.

During this streak the Mets have beaten every team in their division.

“We are setting the tone for the rest of the summer,” Collins said, adding it will make for interesting watching.

It already is. Nobody knows how this season will unfold, but for now this is a team one can love.

Apr 22

Harvey Will Pitch With Slight Ankle Sprain

Here’s why the New York Mets – despite winning ten straight games – can make you want to beat your head against a cement wall.

The person: Matt Harvey.

The issue: An injury.

The event: Harvey went to see a doctor Wednesday afternoon for consultation on a lingering foot injury.

The diagnosis: The doctors said it was a mild left ankle sprain, but before that manager Terry Collins, who apparently received his medical degree in an online medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico, said, “he’s fine, it’s nothing.’’

Collins also said Harvey pitched with it for a month and will make his start Saturday against the Yankees. After Wednesday’s 3-2 over the Braves, Collins said he didn’t even know about it until two days ago. How is that possible? How does the manager not know his best pitcher has a sprained ankle? For him to admit that is admitting he doesn’t know what is going on with his team.

Incomprehensible.

Collins also said Harvey dismissed the idea of skipping the start. Of course he did, because Harvey is the one who makes those decisions. Collins never should have said Harvey would start prior to the exam, and even after should have said he would see later.

After the game Collins called it mild, but leg injuries are critical to a pitcher because it can alter mechanics and put stress on the arm, not a good thing for someone coming off Tommy John surgery.

How would Collins know it is “nothing?’’ It was obvious something enough to where Harvey had to see a doctor, which, whether it was his decision or somebody else’s, was the proper move.

When it comes to injuries, never trust management’s assertion “it is nothing,’’ and for projected missed time always bet the over.

And, for those who say they are long-time Mets fans, remember this is an area where management hasn’t done well. Don’t believe me?

That’s your choice, but kindly remember David Wright, Ike Davis, Johan Santana, Ryan Church, Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and well, need I say more?

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.