Apr 22

Mets Wrap: Harvey Not Sharp, But Wins

The answer was an empathic NO, Matt Harvey did not find it. Regardless of how Friday night’s game would turn out, the main storyline for the Mets was going to be Harvey, and whether he could avoid hitting the wall that marked his three losses to start the season.

HARVEY: Still searching for answers. (Getty)

HARVEY: Still searching for answers. (Getty)

Harvey was far from sharp, but came away with his first victory, 6-3, over the Braves, whom you must remember aren’t the Braves of old who routinely tormented the Mets.

Harvey, backed by a pair of Curtis Granderson home runs, struggled but pitched well enough to temporarily take the collective fingers off the Mets’ off the panic button. Even so, Harvey was pushed and despite winning the Mets know it can’t keep going on like this for the pitcher who craves the moniker of “ace.”

Manager Terry Collins finally admitted Harvey’s light spring training workload, compounded by a bladder infection, has been a strong contributor to his career-high four-game losing streak (dating back to last year).

Harvey gave up two runs on seven hits and a walk with five strikeouts in five arduous innings in which he threw 101 pitches. For that many pitches, the Mets would want at least another two innings from Harvey. His primary problem was not keeping the ball down and his slider didn’t have the bite he must have to succeed.

Staked to a 4-0 lead in the second on Granderson’s grand slam homer, Harvey labored through a 33-pitch bottom of the inning to give back two of the runs.

METS GAME WRAP

Game: #15   Record: 8-7    Streak: W 1

 SUMMARY: Granderson’s two homers and five RBI carried Harvey to his first victory in a performance that can kindly be called “not a gem.”

 KEY MOMENT: Granderson’s slam.

 THUMBS UP: Yoenis Cespedes threw a runner out at the plate to end the fifth. … His RBI double in the seventh marked his seventh straight game with an extra-base hit. … Strong showings by relievers Antonio Bastardo and Addison Reed.

THUMBS DOWN: Harvey’s short start forced the Mets bullpen to log four more innings. … David Wright struck out two more times and already has 21. … Juan Lagares was doubled off second in the ninth when another run would have helped. … Jeurys Familia got the save, but wasn’t sharp. … Cespedes aggravated his leg injury on the double.

EXTRA INNINGS:  Jacob deGrom threw a successful bullpen session in Port St. Lucie Fla. He will rejoin the team Saturday and start Sunday. Collins said deGrom could be limited to 85 pitches. DeGrom last pitched April 8 and has been away from the team when his son, Jaxon, was born with medical complications. … Collins was a passenger in a taxi involved in a minor traffic accident Thursday. There were no injuries. … Pitching coach Dan Warthen is away from the team for his mother’s funeral. … The Braves haven’t announced Sunday’s starter. … The game was delayed by rain in the bottom of the eighth inning.

QUOTEBOOK: “Matt can be a little aloof at times.” – Keith Hernandez on Harvey after the pitcher seemingly walked away from a conversation between innings with catcher Travis d’Arnaud.

 BY THE NUMBERS: 4: Granderson became the fourth player to hit grand slams for both the Mets and Yankees, joining Robin Ventura, Darryl Strawberry and Carlos Beltran.

NEXT FOR METS: Steven Matz (1-1, 7.27 ERA) attempts an encore of last Sunday’s gem in Cleveland. He’ll go against Jhoulys Chacin (0-0, 2.38).

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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?

 

Sep 24

Sandy Alderson’s Greatest Hits

For all the griping and moaning done about GM Sandy Alderson’s performance and contract extension, I would be remiss if I didn’t examine some of the positives.

Remember, in evaluating Alderson, you must consider what he was primarily brought in for – to cut payroll. That was his job description; secondly he was to bring in young blood.

ALDERSON: Did some good..

ALDERSON: Did some good..

Let’s call these Alderson’s Greatest Hits:

CLEARING OUT THE DEADWOOD: For several seasons the Mets carried the unproductive and self-centered Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. Their contracts prevented them from being dealt and they didn’t produce, yet the Mets kept them.

In trying to create a positive atmosphere, Alderson cut ties, which opened the door for fresh blood.

Although Jason Bay didn’t have an attitude problem like Perez and Castillo, he was non-productive, but Alderson worked a buy-out with the swing-and-miss outfielder.

NOT BRINGING BACK JOSE REYES: Yes, he might arguably be the most exciting player in franchise history, but considering the Mets’ financial plight, there was no way they were going to meet the Marlins’ $106 million offer.

Toward the end of his Mets’ tenure, Reyes started to break down – he went on the DL twice in his last year here – and evidenced by his last game, he clearly wanted to get out of town.

Perhaps this was clumsily handled, but Reyes was going to chase every dollar and the Mets weren’t in the ballpark with him. This went a long way toward extending David Wright.

TRADING FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ: The Mets didn’t get much in return, but they did get rid of a bulky contract.

TRADING CARLOS BELTRAN: Alderson traded the injury prone outfielder for Zack Wheeler, one of the jewels in the Mets’ young rotation. As there was no way they were going to bring back Beltran, they couldn’t have done better. Especially, since Beltran was going to walk and his contract stipulated no compensatory draft pick.

TRADING R.A. DICKEY: Dealing a Cy Young Award winner is a difficult decision, but like Reyes, it was doubtful they could have re-signed him.

In return, the Mets received pitcher Noah Syndergaard and Rookie of the Year candidate catcher Travis d’Arnaud and catcher John Buck.

SIGNING MARLON BYRD: They pulled this out of thin air. Byrd gave the Mets a good half-season before he was traded with Buck to Pittsburgh for Dilson Herrera and Vic Black.

SAYING NO TO MATT HARVEY: Let’s face it, Harvey is good, but also a diva. He wanted to pitch this season against the advice of Alderson and the medical staff. Several times he whined about pitching, but unlike previous Mets’ management, Alderson held firm and Harvey stayed in one piece for at least another year.

Jan 12

Piazza Denies Steroids In Book

Some writers claim they voted NO on Mike Piazza for the Hall of Fame did so because his book, “Long Shot,” isn’t to be released until Feb. 12, after the induction announcement. Coincidence or deliberate timing?

You can make an argument either way, but not surprisingly Piazza denies any steroid use. Of course, nobody would realistically expect him to.

It’s pretty disheartening to hear how objective journalists painted Piazza with the same broad brush applied to Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Vote your conscience, but the evidence against Piazza is circumstantial at best. Pimples are not a conclusive argument.

 

Jul 10

Thought On All-Star Home Run Derby

Another year, another Home Run Derby. The only thing with edge last night was Kansas City booing Robinson Cano for bypassing the local hero. Of course, it didn’t have the from-the-heart venom of NBA fans booing the Miami Heat.

Initially, I watched the Derby with interest, if not fascination, the way I did the NBA slam dunk. But, there’s no real challenge if the pitch is lobbed over the play, so it became boring. Then, after the steroid issue, you knew what fueled all those upper deck shots.

So, I’m not a big fan of the Derby. I’d rather watch Criminal MInds reruns.

But, the paying public in the host city still loves it. I heard on talk radio yesterday saying how it Derby should be tweaked, ranging from celebrities (PLEASE, NO) to retired sluggers (not a bad idea).

I don’t care for the Derby because it is staged and not real competition – even though in a million swings I could never clear the wall – but as long as they are selling out the stadium, just leave it alone.