Feb 16

Vargas A Good Signing

I would have preferred Jake Arrieta, but I like the signing of Jason Vargas. Two years for $16 million with a club option for 2020 isn’t a bad deal, especially for a left-hander pitched 179.2 innings and won 18 games.

What’s not to like?

VARGAS: Good signing. (Getty)

       VARGAS: Good signing. (Getty)

Zack Wheeler reportedly isn’t happy, but that’s too bad because after all, he’s frequently injured and has only pitched in 66 games since 2013.

Assuming Vargas – who pitched for the Mets in 2007 – comes close in the next two years to start the 32 game he did last year [Jacob deGrom led the staff with 31].

Vargas is an insurance policy for a staff that had five starters [Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Wheeler, Steven Matz and Seth Lugo] go on the disabled list last year.

He also is a stop-gap for Harvey possibly leaving and gives the Mets a left-handed option if Matz goes down again.

Manager Mickey Callaway echoed what I wrote the other day that a team “can’t have enough pitching.’’

While pitching coach with Cleveland Callaway undoubtedly saw Vargas pitch for the Royals.

Feb 12

Three Givens In Mets Rotation

The Mets will take five starters north, but only three are givens: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey. Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler are coming off injuries and we won’t know about them until late in spring training.

DeGrom and Syndergaard – assuming healthy – are two of the best in the sport. Syndergaard missed most of last year with a torn lat muscle and early reports are he’s in great shape and not bulked up like last year.

Harvey has never lived up to his potential because of injuries, and here’s hoping in his walk year he can come close to his 2013 form.

It is entirely possible Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo could fill out the end of the rotation. Chris Flexen and Rafael Montero will also compete but could wind up in the bullpen in long relief as he’s out of minor league options.

If Matz or Wheeler is ready, it is possible Lugo could pitch out of the pen.

Jan 25

Have Mets Really Changed Their Medical Philosophy?

It was interesting to hear how GM Sandy Alderson overhauled the Mets’ medical staff, but then I remembered that was something both he and COO Jeff Wilpon vowed they would do when Alderson was hired in October of 2010.

However, that, like several other Mets’ promises when unfulfilled.

HARVEY: Personifies Mets' handling of injuries.(AP)

HARVEY: Personifies Mets’ handling of injuries.(AP)

How the Mets have handled injuries has long been a source of angst for fans and players of the franchise, and here’s hoping Jim Cavallini and Brian Chicklo have an uneventful tenure heading up the on-field medical staff.

However, in looking at some of the Mets’ most recent paralyzing injuries, a bulk of the responsibility falls with Alderson and the players themselves.

Among the most significant:

David Wright: In 2011, Wright played a month with a stress fracture in his lower back. Wright must assume some responsibility for trying to gut it out, but Alderson needs to share in this, too, for not insisting on an MRI earlier. We’ll never know how things might have been different for Wright had this been handled differently,

Jose Reyes: In 2010, Reyes sustained an injury to his right side in batting practice, June 30, and misses six games. As has been a tendency under Alderson, Reyes in rushed back and aggravates the injury, July 10 and is out for ten days. The Mets foolishly believe the All-Star break is enough time, and bring him back July 20. He is reinjured a month later and doesn’t return until Sept. 10.

Matt Harvey: The essence of the Mets’ bumbling of injuries began in 2013 with Harvey. Off to a fantastic start and facing the prospect of starting the All-Star Game at Citi Field, Harvey ignored tightness in his right forearm. Harvey – much to the delight of the Mets’ brass – started and starred in the All-Star Game, but was eventually shut down and went on the disabled list.

Harvey then got into a spitting match with Alderson about surgery and when to do his rehab. Then, after missing the entire 2014 season, Harvey and Alderson then clashed on an innings limit. Finally, last spring, Alderson ignored a warning from then-pitching coach Dan Warthen that Harvey wouldn’t be full strength until late May and rushed him back. We know what happened next.

Had Harvey not hid his sore forearm in 2013, and the Mets not shut him down at the All-Star break, there’s no telling how things might have unfolded differently.

Yoenis Cespedes: The Mets foolishly gave Cespedes a four-year, $110-million contract, then gave him carte blanche to become a bodybuilder. Despite a history of injuries, Cespedes strained his left hamstring last year. Then, as their offense went up in smoke, they rushed him back and he tore the hamstring and was limited to less than 90 games played.

Noah Syndergaard: As they did with Harvey, the Mets gave into Syndergaard. First, they let him become muscle bound in the offseason, then let him get away with not getting an MRI. Syndergaard subsequently tore his lat muscle in an early-season game at Washington and was lost for the year.

“I can’t tie him down and throw him in the tube,’’ is the quote that identifies Alderson’s regime. Alderson then said there was nothing the MRI would have shown that could have prevented the tear. Seriously, he said that.

The above five injuries were attributable to giving the players too much latitude and for Alderson not being the adult in the room. Unless those two variables change, it doesn’t matter who the new trainer is.

Jan 12

Thanks Mark Phelan For The Kick In The Ass

Sometimes I need a kick in the ass and I got one today from reader Mark Phelan, who wrote my “obsession” for David Wright contributing to the Mets “screws up” my ability to recognize how troubled this lineup really is. Well, Mark, I don’t agree with you on the word “obsession,” but I am hoping Wright can go out on his own terms, which is rare for an athlete.

“Hoping,” after all is a right for any Mets fan.

WRIGHT: Staring into dark future. (AP)

WRIGHT: Staring into dark future. (AP)

If the Mets sign Todd Frazier that tells me they are convinced Wright is done. If they sign Jose Reyes it tells me they also are holding out hope.

Nonetheless, let’s take a look at their troubled lineup:

CATCHER: They are trying it again with Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. There’s nothing inspiring about that prospect. Talk about beating a dead horse.

FIRST BASE: The fact they are considering a reunion with Lucas Duda says they aren’t thrilled with Dominic Smith. That they brought back Jay Bruce to play some first base also says they aren’t happy with Smith. That they won’t play Wilmer Flores there tells me they want him off the bench, which is stupid.

I would also like to revisit what I wrote during the World Series that they passed on Cody Bellinger in the draft.

SECOND BASE: Asdrubal Cabrera? That tells me they don’t want to spend the money on Jason Kipnis. Cabrera is injury prone and we’ll see Flores there soon enough. Cabrera also says they won’t give T.J. Rivera a chance. Two words: Daniel Murphy.

SHORTSTOP: Amed Rosario is there to stay, but he has problems throwing as he continues to pump his glove, which takes time. He has a lot to learn about playing the position. Offensively, he has a lot of speed but poor plate discipline and strikes out too much. Ideally, he has the speed to be a leadoff hitter but has too many holes in the offensive part of the game.

THIRD BASE: Frazier or Reyes or Cabrera? Of the three, I’d take Frazier. That means the Wright Era would officially be over unless he moves to first. At that stage of his career, it would be difficult. Back to Rivera for a second. Because he’s being ignored it says the Mets aren’t sure of him physically. The black hole at third has long been a Mets’ tradition. This time it underscores GM Sandy Alderson’s terrible decision to get rid of Justin Turner.

LEFT FIELD: Yoenis Cespedes had six great weeks in 2015, which seduced Alderson into bringing him back, completely overlooking his absence during the World Series. Cespedes did hit homers in 2016, but not enough to warrant his injuries, lack of hustle, and drama. The Mets represent Cespedes’ fourth team before the age of 30 says a lot, but something Alderson ignored. As imposing as he can be when healthy, Cespedes has too many leg injuries. He was brought back to play center but now refuses, in large part because of his pulled muscles. Cespedes hustles when he feels like it, which pisses me off no end. The worst part of the Cespedes’ $110 million contract is it screws up the Mets’ budget. Will Cespedes be ready for Opening Day? Who knows?

CENTER FIELD: It’s Michael Conforto if healthy. If not Juan Lagares will start. The Mets gave Lagares a multi-year contract but have no place to put him. He has the speed to hit leadoff, but like Rosario doesn’t have the plate discipline. He’ll likely be the Opening Day starter because Conforto might not be ready.

RIGHT FIELD: Hello again, Mr. Bruce. Did the Mets panic or did Bruce because of the slow market? They should never have traded him. As of now, he could be their lone power hitter in the lineup.

BULLPEN: Alderson traded Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Duda and Addison Reed for relief help but none of the five relievers brought in turned any heads last year or threaten to make the roster now. Reed remains unsigned. Closer Jeurys Familia is recovering from surgery; AJ Ramos was spotty in his window of opportunity and Jerry Blevins is the overworked situational lefty. Hansel Robles is a nightmare and the rest are all questions. Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo could find their way into the bullpen if they don’t end up in the rotation.

STARTERS: It’s Jacob deGrom and a bunch of questions. … Can Noah Syndergaard recover from a torn lat muscle caused because he foolishly thought lifting weights would help him get stronger so he could last longer in games? The problem with Syndergaard’s high pitch count is because his command is inconsistent. Just throw the damn ball, stay off Twitter and don’t think so much. … Matt Harvey never became the ace we all hoped. Harvey needs a big year because he’ll be a free agent next winter. Odds are he’ll leave to give us the memories of one fine moment in 2013, followed by hiding an injury leading to surgery and subsequently landing on the disabled list and bitching about where he’ll rehab.There’s also the stories about him dating the Supermodel of the Day. However, his lasting image will be shouting down Terry Collins in the dugout in the ninth inning of Game 5 to stay in the game, which he subsequently blew. … Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler are coming off injuries. You can substitute Gsellman, Lugo or Rafael Montero at any time. … This rotation has yet to pitch a complete full cycle.

BENCH: Flores is still searching for a place to play and a backup outfielder is needed if it isn’t Lagares. … There’s no power threat for the late innings.

MANAGER: Mickey Callaway is unproven but comes with Terry Francona’s endorsement. Nobody knows what he can do under pressure. Let’s hope his ideas about keeping the rotation healthy pan out.

So Mark, there you have it. This is my take on the Mets’ lineup which doesn’t include Wright. When you look at the rest of the lineup please indulge me the thought of hoping arguably one of the three best position players in Mets history can come back despite it being a long shot. When you look at the Mets, the only proven position is Bruce in right.

So, thank you, Mark, for reading, your comments and being my inspiration today. Personally, I think Wright is done and I nailed it with the lineup.

Jan 11

Bruce The First Step

I’m glad the Mets will bring back Jay Bruce, but not satisfied. There are those applauding GM Sandy Alderson’s patience today for letting the market come back to him and there’s a degree of truth to that line of thinking.

BRUCE: That's the first step. (AP)

BRUCE: That’s the first step. (AP)

However, I’m not ready to jump on the Alderson bandwagon because Bruce isn’t nearly enough:

  • The Mets, because of David Wright’s uncertainty, need a third baseman. The market is ignoring Todd Frazier, so that’s a possibility, but how much will he cost? He’ll want at least three years at close to what Bruce is making.
  • They have the potential to have a solid bullpen, but another reliable late-inning arm would be helpful. As long as the Mets are in a reunion mode, Addison Reed is still available.
  • Hoping has always been a Mets’ strategy, and this time it is for the healthy returns of Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. They won’t be perfect here, so another veteran arm will be needed.
  • Even if they fill all those voids, there’s still the matter of Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto coming back from their injuries.

That’s a lot of things that need to happen for the Mets to become competitive again, but for now, I’ll just say cheers to Bruce.

Even the longest journies begin with a single step and Bruce is the first.