Jul 06

Collins Lays Down Law With Harvey

The other day I suggested the Mets’ Matt Harvey “just shut up and pitch.” Evidently, manager Terry Collins has similar thoughts, but was less colorful than me. Anyway, the bottom line is Collins and GM Sandy Alderson want to do the right thing with Harvey and the other starters to protect their arms.

Of course, had Alderson developed a definitive plan coming out of spring training this wouldn’t be the issue it has become. And for the record, Princess Harvey made it the hot button topic. Quite frankly, it amazes me how many people don’t understand the six-man is designed to protect Harvey and the other young pitchers, all of whom are on innings counts.

If the Mets hope to play meaningful games in September, they’ll need those pitchers. Seriously, wouldn’t Harvey rather the Mets limit him now or in September? Logic would dictate that be the case, but why can’t Harvey understand that?

When Harvey blamed his rustiness on the six-man rotation – and undercut Collins in the process – the manager told the pitcher to “get over it.”

“I know he’s frustrated by it, and he and I have talked about it,” Collins told reporters, in yet another effort to placate Harvey. “But you’ve got to come up and be creative between starts. I certainly understand it. I certainly do understand it. He’s a tremendous competitor and he wants to be out there as much as he can on a regular basis.

“I guess the easiest way for me to say it is, ‘Matt, we’ll go back to a five-man, but I hope you enjoy watching the rest of the season sitting on the bench in September when we need you.’ So we’ve got to make the adjustment.”

That’s what the Diva doesn’t understand. The Mets are in the six-man rotation to protect Harvey, All-Star selection Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, not to mention Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon. Then again, when you’re thinking only of yourself and not the big picture, that’s what happens.

I’m glad Collins had his say with Harvey, and more than that, brought his comments to the forefront. It’s about time.

Jun 29

Assessing Trade Value Of Jon Niese

With the emergence of Steven Matz, expect the Mets to ratchet up their intent to trade from their pitching depth to bolster their anemic offense. The Mets would dearly like to find a taker or two for Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon on the major league level; Dillon Gee in the minors; and Rafael Montero, who has spent much of the season on the disabled list.

NIESE: What is his value? (AP)

NIESE: What is his value? (AP)

Of course, interested teams inquire about Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Matz, but are turned down. They don’t even both to ask about Matt Harvey, anymore.

Of the the four the Mets most want to trade, Niese has the greatest upside to bring in a bat.

Colon, at 41, won’t attract anything more than a lower level mediocre prospect at best. Gee won’t bring much more. Montero, if included in a package, could bring in the most, but he’s coming off an elbow injury.

Niese, however, at 28, is left-handed, now seemingly healthy, signed to a reasonable contract and has had some degree of success. Niese’s career record is 55-58, but with a respectable 3.89 ERA and average 1.368 WHIP. The ERA is what is most attractive, with the mediocre record attributable to the Mets’ porous bullpen and poor hitting.

Last year, Niese logged 187.2 innings in 30 starts while going 9-11. That’s indicative of a pitcher not afraid to take the ball. That could have value to the Cubs and Dodgers, the teams reportedly interested in Niese.

Assuming Niese remains healthy, a buying team can figure on getting innings, and will undoubtedly have the belief he would benefit from a change of scenery.

Naturally, money will always factor into any deal.

Niese will make $7 million this year, which means roughly a $3.5 million investment for the remainder of this year. Niese will earn $9 million in 2016; $10 million for 2017; and $11 million in 2018. Those are palatable salaries, and making it more attractive is the final two years have team options.

However, what must be remembered in dealing Niese to a potential contender is that if a team is in contention it likely wouldn’t want to deal a major league ready hitter. And, the Mets don’t want prospects as they believe they are capable of winning now.

Consequently, a team wanting Niese likely wouldn’t offer much, which is usually the tact the Mets have when they want to make a trade.

Jun 26

Mets’ Six-Man Rotation: Take Two

For the second time this season, the Mets will go with a six-man rotation. The first time was earlier this month when Dillon Gee came off the disabled list, but quickly fizzled when he was hammered. This time, it is to squeeze Steven Matz into the rotation. He’ll start Sunday against Cincinnati.

Prior to Noah Syndergaard‘s 2-1, eight-inning gem Friday over the Reds, GM Sandy Alderson told reporters the Mets were committed to this move. Then again, that’s what Alderson and manager Terry Collins said the first time.

“We’re going to go to a six-man rotation,” Alderson said. “I expect that will continue for a period of time and we’ll see where it goes.”

Alderson wouldn’t define “period of time.”

Matz is 24, left-handed and throws gas. There’s a lot to like about him opposed to Jon Niese, whose career has been on a steady decline the past few years.

The Mets have six starters, but still aren’t scoring any runs. They only scored two tonight and would have lost if not for Syndergaard. Matz increases the depth of the rotation, but the Mets are still a team that can’t score.

There were considerable rumblings when the six-man rotation was initially bagged it was because those in the rotation – notably Matt Harvey - didn’t want to pitch with too much rest.

“This arrangement has been discussed with the other five pitchers,” Alderson said. “I think they understand it’s in their interest.”

We’ll see.

The Mets came across as unprepared and in a panic mode the first time they did this, and it’s no different now. As mentioned several times here, this juggling could have been alleviated had the Mets adopted a concrete plan to limit innings going into the season, but Harvey balked.

Once again, the Mets are flying by the seat of their pants.

Jun 19

Mets Should Sign DeGrom Over Harvey

Should the Mets opt to sign just one of their wunderkind pitchers to a long-term contract, my choice would be tonight’s starter, Jacob deGrom. And, if they opt to trade one, I’d first offer Matt Harvey.

Ideally, after this season they should make a run at signing all three to long-term deals. The money would be high, but not nearly what it will eventually be. They must be aggressive and determined, but do you really see that happening?

DE GROM: A keeper. (AP)

DE GROM: A keeper. (AP)

I can’t say for sure deGrom would be easiest to sign or cost less. That’s a hunch. But, it certainly wouldn’t be Harvey, whose agent, Scott Boras, is known for not leaving any money on the table. Boras’ plan has traditionally been to wait until a player reaches free-agent status and play the market. Undoubtedly, this is what he wants with Harvey, and ideally, he wants to play the Mets against the Yankees.

I’ve said numerous times Harvey yearns to be a Yankee. If I am right, that’s fine, that’s his prerogative, that’s his right, but the Mets shouldn’t get caught up in a bidding war. If they want to keep Harvey for the duration of his career, they need to strike before the market opens. But, I don’t think Boras will let that happen, unless, of course, the Mets would be offering 2019 money, which is the year he becomes a free agent.

I don’t believe that will happen, either. However, if the Mets are as committed to building a winning team as they claim to be, they must dig deep.

The guess here is deGrom and Noah Syndergaard might be easier to sign.

DeGrom (7-4, 2.33) is pitching the best so far this season – he is 4-0 with a 1.25 ERA over his last six starts – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. He could have won another had his defense and bullpen not coughed it up for him tonight.

There’s a lot to like about deGrom, including his mound composure, command and ability to locate his pitches. Harvey has those things, too, but this year his command has been off as evidenced by all the home runs he’s given up.

So, if it boils down to one in deGrom vs. Harvey and whom to keep, I’m going with deGrom. He has about the same amount of talent, could be financially a better investment, is not a diva, and ultimately, I can’t shake the belief Harvey’s heart is really in the Bronx.

That’s what I believe. I also believe if the Mets had to trade one, my first choice would be Harvey for the same reasons.

Jun 17

Gee Deserves Better … Hopefully He’ll Get It Elsewhere

Unfortunately, the relationship between Dillon Gee and the Mets represents the norm in the player-team relationship.

The Mets have acquiesced to just about everything Harvey wants, and the decision to scrap the six-man rotation – designed to preserve his arm – is eventually what cost Gee his job.

GEE: Hopefully he'll land somewhere. (AP)

GEE: Hopefully he’ll land somewhere. (AP)

The Mets first sent Gee to the bullpen, then subsequently designated him for assignment, which is the first step to outright departure, either by trade or minor league assignment.

If the Mets are unable to work out a trade, they will surely stick him back to Triple-A Las Vegas where he will be at their disposal should somebody get injured or Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz – when they eventually bring him up – spit the bit.

To be sure, Gee has not pitched well this season, in part because of a groin injury, but for the most part he has been more than a serviceable starter for the Mets. What was it … over 50 straight starts of at least five innings?

Hopefully other teams were paying attention, for example, Toronto, which is in need of pitching. The Mets could have traded Gee if they wanted, but GM Sandy Alderson was more determine to hold up the other team and nothing was done.

Hopefully, Alderson learned from this winter and realizes there’s limited interest in Gee. Perhaps he’ll then take what he can get and let Gee go to an organization that can really appreciate him.

Gee deserves it.