Aug 31

Tom Seaver Partially Correct On Treatment Of Pitchers

Tom Seaver, the best player to ever wear a New York Mets uniform, has forgotten more about pitching than any of us will ever know.

So, in explaining Matt Harvey’s injury, I am buying into his argument pitchers of today are babied. Up to a point.

SEAVER: Go to the whip on today's pitchers.

SEAVER: Go to the whip on today’s pitchers.

We will never again see the likes of pitchers such as Seaver, who 11 times threw over 250 innings. Or Juan Marichal, who threw 30 complete games one season and 27 the next. Think about that for a moment. Fifty-seven complete games in two years is more than a pitcher starting his career today will likely have by the time he retires.

From the high school to college to the minor leagues to the majors, pitchers today are babied. They are handled with kid gloves. God forbid somebody throws over 100 pitches or works past the seventh inning.

They are babied in part because that’s the thinking of today’s managers and pitching coaches, who believe they are protecting their future assets.

That’s the key word – assets.

Look who’s protected and who is not.

High-profile picks Harvey and Zack Wheeler are protected not just because they represent the Mets’ future, but because the club already sunk a considerable amount of money into their future. They are an investment, and as such, they are to be protected.

Like a fine car, artwork, jewelry or cash, they are to be handled carefully as to not squander the investment. You aren’t careless with china or porcelain; teams aren’t careless with pitchers.

I believe Seaver is correct in saying these guys must be built up instead of being held in reserve and “babied.’’

As a part of the body, the arm, elbow and shoulder gets stronger the more it is worked, not the less it is exercised.

It used to be pitchers threw, and threw, and threw. Today everything is monitored, from the innings to the pitches, to the type of pitches thrown. Some teams even monitor and count warm-up pitches.

While the word from above is to be careful with these guys because of the investment made, something else must also be taken into consideration.

A bulk of today’s pitchers are athletes. They are strong, fast and powerful, and as such they throw with incredible violence and torque that pitchers didn’t necessarily have in Seaver’s era, but if they did they were protected by their high volume of throwing.

Seaver is correct, but he didn’t get into the main points, that today’s pitchers are babied because of the investment made in them, and so strong that they outmuscle their mechanics.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 25

Decision Time For Mets On How To Limit Matt Harvey

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HOW WILL METS LIMIT MATT HARVEY? (Getty)

How the New York Mets handle Matt Harvey the rest of the season we should know this week. Harvey admitted the effects of his workload this season are wearing him down, and with the concession Terry Collins knows there’s no more procrastinating with this issue.

Previously, Harvey said he wasn’t happy being limited, but following the loss, admitted being tired. He also said dealing with fatigue is part of the learning process. Eventually, the Mets will play meaningful games in September and October, and they will need Harvey.

“It’s a long season and you’ve got to push through it,’’ Harvey said. “Right now I’m not doing a good job of doing that, and we’ve got to figure something out.’’

Currently, Collins has three options, including: 1) pushing next Thursday’s start against Philadelphia back one day, 2) skipping his turn in the rotation completely and start him in the next turn, Sept. 3, and/or 3) stopping him at six innings period.

The problem with a strict innings cap of six is it doesn’t take into account the strain of the pitches thrown. Harvey threw 6.2 innings Saturday, but they were all grueling because of the tenacity of the pitches.

To his credit, Harvey is not using his lack of run support as an excuse. Clearly, with no runs, Harvey must bear down as he can’t risk a mistake. Saying such a thing, as true as it might be, takes a swipe at his offense, and Harvey won’t travel that road.

An extra 24 hours of rest helps minimally, but if he pitches the next day those innings still count. The best solution is to skin a turn, which takes away the opportunity at six or seven more innings.

From there, just cap his innings at five or six, and perhaps skip one more start. That should get him through the season at the prescribed innings count.

Then do the same with Zack Wheeler.

The problem with this preventative measure is it hinders developing his endurance, and it prevents nothing. Regardless of what steps take, a pitcher’s arm is a fragile thing not meant to throw a baseball with such torque and violence.

Something can always happen to a pitcher, with no guarantees of them not.

Face it, Nolan Ryan was a freak, and gone are the days when Juan Marichal threw 30 complete games in 1968. He threw 325.2 innings that season. He came back with 27 complete games the following year.

Clearly, it was a different era. Then rotations were four deep and complete games were the expected norm and not the exception. That was a mentality developed in the minor leagues and earlier.

From when Harvey first started pitching, complete games were a novelty. It’s too late to start him thinking otherwise.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 22

Mets Reunion With Jose Reyes Unlikely

If you think the New York Mets’ parting with Jose Reyes was cold and difficult, just think about the potential of a possible reunion?

This is something percolating in my mind with the Toronto Blue Jays playing across town yesterday. However, it could happen because Reyes was traded from the team (Miami) that signed him a free agent, he’s eligible to go back on the market.

REYES: Don't see him coming back.

REYES: Don’t see him coming back.

Making this an enticing thought is the future is not Omar Quintanilla and Ruben Tejada is quickly morphing into a past tense option at shortstop.

Reyes’ departure was a poorly calculated departure that became a public relations fiasco. All summer GM Sandy Alderson said bringing back Reyes was an option, but in the end, the Mets never offered a contract so when the Miami Marlins dangled over $106 million, he was off.

I wrote at the time it was a messy divorce, but not surprising for several reasons.

Mets ownership, mired in the Madoff case, was under dire financial distress. They had the money to offer one major deal, but it was to go to Wright, not Reyes.

Money puts a strain on the strongest relationships, but the Mets and Reyes were never all that tight, even though the team gave its mercurial shortstop a long-term deal early in his career.

While money is always the easiest thing to point to, but there was also the issue of Reyes’ health. Reyes missed two months this year with an ankle injury, but previously with the Mets was sidelined with several hamstring injuries, including twice going on the disabled list in his final season in Flushing.

Reyes is having a decent season, hitting .295 with a .352 on-base percentage. However, including his last year with the Mets, his speed numbers (triples, stolen bases, and stolen-base percentages) are in decline.

Quite simply, he’s not the player he once was, when from 2005-8, he stole over 56 bases each year, three times leading the league. In that span, he also led the National League in triples three times.

The Mets forecast a decline in Reyes’ speed-related production, and now at 30 it is starting to happen. More breakdowns can be expected as Reyes goes deeper into his contract.

Reyes is in the second season of a seven-year deal with an option for 2018. Nobody, probably not even Reyes, believes he’ll run better as the years progress.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 20

Mets Should Not Be Eager To Rush David Wright’s Return

As expected, David Wright said he hopes to return to the New York Mets this season, but there’s no timetable.

WRIGHT: No reason to rush him back.

WRIGHT: No reason to rush him back.

Wright said the status of his “strained,’’ hamstring day-to-day, which is to say neither he nor the Mets have any idea of when he’ll be back at third base. Tuesday night was the 16th game he has missed.

“I want to come back,’’ Wright told reporters today. “It is frustrating because I want to be out there, but at the same time I don’t want this to be a chronic problem where it continues to happen because you didn’t rehab it properly the first time.”

The Mets rushed players before – notably Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes – but the objectives of finishing .500 and/or second base aren’t enough to warrant the risk with Wright.

Wright hasn’t had any setbacks and is rehabbing gradually, beginning with strengthening his legs and increasing his flexibility. He’s working the upper half of his body by throwing and hitting off a tee. It’s not inconceivable he would be able to come back this season, but what’s the rush? What would be the purpose?

Wright wants to play, but he’s played with injuries before it has backfired. If he were to be re-injured again the next recovery process would be even longer, and more difficult because it would be in the offseason.

However, for now the plan is to keep rehabbing with the same medical staff and trainers, and start a running program before heading to Port St. Lucie, Fla., where the Mets make their spring training home. Wright believes it is important the same training staff he’s been working with institute the next phase of his recovery program.

Hamstrings are tricky and take a long time. The rule of thumb is whatever the timetable, add at least another week. The running program begins with light jogging, then increasing speed until it is a sprint. From there, he would run the bases and simulate changing speeds and directions, so figure at least another two weeks.

Wright, named the Mets’ captain this spring, started the All-Star Game and was batting .309 with 16 homers and 54 RBI.

The Mets have exceed expectations, but that doesn’t warrant the risk of rushing Wright, because although they are playing better than hoped, the hopes are even greater for 2014.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 11

Six-Man Rotation Might Benefit Mets And Jon Niese

Jon Niese will make his first start for the New York Mets in nearly two months this afternoon today in Phoenix. It is arguably one of the most important starts by a Met starter this season.

Those made by Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler generated more excitement, but for future planning, this is hugely important because it dictates their off-season objectives.

NIESE: What's he thinking?

NIESE: What’s he thinking?

Niese lasted just 3.1 innings in his last start, June 20, at Atlanta, after which it was discovered he had a partially-torn rotator cuff. He went on the disabled list two days later. Niese passed all the medical tests, so it is assumed he’s good to go.

The Mets need to test Niese with kid gloves for the remainder of the season, and figuring no further complications it would streamline the Mets’ off-season shopping list.

If Niese is reinjured, don’t expect an early return next year, and assume they will attempt to add another starter this winter. They could go again with Jeremy Hefner, who has hit the skids since the All-Star break, or they could add another solution like Shaun Marcum.

Yeah, I thought that might get your attention.

Niese gave up three runs on eight hits in that start against the Braves, with five strikeouts and no walks. The most important number is where he landed on the pain meter, which was pretty high.

With Niese’s return to the rotation, the Mets will continue with a six-man starter, which under these circumstances is a prudent move for several reasons: 1) it protects Niese; 2) it lengthens the time between Hefner starts; and 3) it allows the Mets to reduce the starts, and thereby innings, of Harvey and Wheeler.

Most importantly, it will give the Mets an understanding of where Niese stands physically and their off-season needs while protecting him. That’s their most important pitching objective for now, even more than reducing Harvey’s and Wheeler’s innings.

Nobody knows whether the Mets will need to reduce Harvey and Wheeler next season, but assuming they will, this experience can only help them in developing a between-starts routine.

In four games against Arizona, Niese is 1-2 with a 6.85 ERA, including an 11-5 loss last July. However, those numbers aren’t as important as the simple fact Niese is starting another game this season.

For those thinking the Mets have nothing to play for or learn the remainder of the season, guess again.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos