Mar 19

Mets Playing Unreasonable Hardball With Harvey

The New York Mets have long been accused of mishandling injuries, from Carlos Beltran to Ryan Church to David Wright to Oliver Perez to Ike Davis.

That’s only a few.

HARVEY: Irritated by Mets' position. (AP)

HARVEY: Irritated by Mets’ position. (AP)

Mishandling ranges across a broad spectrum and you can see storm clouds forming with Matt Harvey.

A few weeks ago, I took Harvey to task for his adamant stance of wanting to rehab in New York instead of Port St. Lucie. I’ve softened on that approach following the incident stemming from a one-on-one interview the disabled pitcher had with Andy Martino of The New York Daily News.

Harvey has the union-negotiated right not to rehab the entire time in Florida, which is the Mets’ preference. Harvey prefers New York, and insists it’s not because of the Rangers and the nightlife the City offers.

By contrast, Port St. Lucie offers Chili’s and an Outback. You can’t even get a good pizza slice down there.

Harvey fully argued his position, and I better understand his desire and frustration, a product of his treatment by management.

“The biggest part is wanting to stay with the team,’’ Harvey said. “To learn the league. To learn Travis (d’Arnaud).  To learn how to bond with the other starting pitchers, and the guys in the clubhouse, and the David Wrights who I plan on playing with.

“I expressed that seven months in Port St. Lucie is a long time. For me, I strongly felt that my best opportunity, and my motivation to come back quicker, stronger, work harder would be to be with the teammates. That’s kind of what I have always said.  I have worked so hard to get to the big leagues and be with this team, it just felt like all of a sudden I was shooed to the back.’’

Unfortunately, it’s usually that way with injured players; they become invisible.

But, Harvey makes sense. In contrast, the Mets have not responded with a passionate defense of their position, other than to say most players have always rehabbed at the spring training site.

That’s like a kid questioning his mother and hearing,  “because I said so.’’ That answer doesn’t fly when one is eight, let alone 24.

General manager Sandy Alderson said the team would discuss a full rehab plan. Huh? He says that in March? This should have been decided in late October following Harvey’s Tommy John surgery.

Why did this issue have to be in the air for the better part of five months? Ridiculous.

Funny, but when Harvey was introduced as the GM, COO Jeff Wilpon said better handling of injuries was a priority.

Why can’t there be a compromise? Say, one month in New York and one month in Florida? Or, rehab when the team is home and return to Port St. Lucie when it is on the road?

Think of the frequent flier miles. This shouldn’t be all that hard.

Harvey also complained his locker was moved – along with Jeremy Hefner – to the corner of the room, which he said isolates him from the team. He is the Mets, or at least will be next season, so why agitate him?

Alderson claimed he didn’t order the move; instead saying it was the decision of the clubhouse manager. Since when does a clubhouse manager run things?

Harvey should have said something a month ago if he was unhappy. If he did, there’s no excuse why this has lingered when he should have been relocated to his original locker location. The same goes for Hefner. There’s not a good reason to do this and alienate Harvey.

Harvey was also peeved, and rightfully so, when his interview with Martino was intruded on by a Mets’ official. Not being allowed to talk with the press is unreasonable. Just as bad is having his discussion monitored.

That the official also lingered after Harvey said everything was cool, and had a testy exchange with the reporter, not surprisingly reached print to further make the Mets look bad.

On interviews, Alderson said: “My recommendation is to manage doing interviews in a way that doesn’t interfere with his day-to-day-activities.’’

That’s absurd. Players always do that. In over 20 years in major league clubhouses, I never experienced a player who didn’t leave when he was scheduled to be somewhere else. “I gotta go. Let’s finish this later,’’ is the stock statement.

Besides, Harvey’s work ethic would never prevent him from doing his rehab. He probably has his day structured tighter than the Mets’ format.

So, the player who wasn’t supposed to be a story became one because of three decisions, or indecisions, by Mets’ management.

The first thing I thought of is why would the Mets push Harvey when all of this could have been alleviated with a little common sense? Why irritate your best pitcher, the guy you’ve been touting as the key to your rebuilding process?

Just plain dumb.

This is so petty. Don’t think for a moment that if the Mets continue to play hardball with Harvey, that he won’t do the same with them in 2019, when he becomes a free agent.

Jan 04

Mets Should Have Short Leash With Chris Young

One of the more interesting questions leading into spring training is how long a leash should the New York Mets give outfielder Chris Young. Of course, even more perplexing is why they signed him in the first place.

YOUNG: Strikeout machine.

YOUNG: Strikeout machine.

I’m not on board with manager Terry Collins’ proclamation he believes Young is the Met most poised for a surprise season. Considering his recent numbers, hitting .225 would be a surprise, but that’s not what Collins had in mind.

The problem is the Mets will pay this guy $7 million, which means he’ll play. However, him in the lineup is an obstacle for Juan Lagares, Matt den Dekker, Eric Young and any other outfield prospect.

After wishing – remember, wishing is not a plan – for big years from Oliver Perez, Jason Bay, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and dozens of others, the Mets have been burned many times. Young’s track record includes 32 homers seven years ago, but also averages 148 strikeouts per 162 games throughout his career.

He also has a career .235 average with a.315 on-base percentage, which certainly gets me amped. Young clearly is a high-priced gamble, but not one I’d give a lot of patience to.

My hope is he gets off to a fast start which would enable the Mets a chance to deal him. Other than that, if he gets off to a miserable start, in a rebuilding year I wouldn’t waste a lot of time. I’d cut my losses and see what others can do.

I still don’t know what Sandy Alderson had in mind when he signed Young.

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

Jan 03

Just Cutting Ike Davis Might Be Mets’ Best Option

As the New York Mets seek trade partners for Ike Davis, perhaps it is time they seriously consider cutting the cord and move on. Take their losses and start over.

The Mets appear to be playing a game of chicken, expecting the Brewers or Orioles, or anybody else, to blink and give them a pitcher for their former first base power-hitting prospect.

DAVIS: Just say good-bye.

DAVIS: Just say good-bye.

There is no Zack Wheeler for Sandy Alderson to swoop in and get this time. Those opportunities don’t come along often, and another thing, Carlos Beltran was a more appealing trade chip than Davis.

I’ve written several times teams are waiting out the Mets in hope they’ll jettison Davis during spring training and sign him off the scrap heap as to not have to give up anything. That is becoming increasingly evident.

The Mets are thinking they should get something for a player who hit 32 homers in 2012. Other teams wonder why they should they give up a lot for a player who strikes out well over 100 times a year and barely hit over .200 the past few seasons. I wonder that, too.

The most Davis would cost the Mets this year would be roughly $4 million. That’s not a lot by today’s standards, but if the Mets kept him for another season and Davis doesn’t produce, one can only envision how the year unfolds.

If Davis falters and his strikeouts spike and average plummets, calls to cut him or send him to the minors will serve as a life-sucking distraction to this team. If you’re trying to change a team’s culture and rebuild, and if a goal is to see what Lucas Duda can provide, hoping for Davis to catch lightning is a strategy not worth pursuing.

The Mets severed ties with Oliver Perez and Jason Bay. In both cases they got rid of high-priced, low-performance players. This time there’s not a lot of money at stake, but only a considerable amount of disappointment.

Perhaps the best option in the interest of making the next step is to simply release Davis and not worry about what he might do elsewhere. It’s clear he’s not doing anything in New York.

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

Jan 01

Understated Mets’ Positives Of 2013

Good afternoon folks. I was thinking about the best and worst with the New York Mets during the summer of 2013. As far as the best and worst, Matt Harvey is both. His development captivated the organization until the black cloud of Tommy John surgery.

Outside of Harvey’s injury, the other major negative was the continuing negative saga of Ike Davis. Ruben Tejada entered the season a question and was a disappointment, but not nearly as paralyzing as Davis’ self-destructive year at the plate.

What then, after Harvey’s early emergence, could we look at as positives?

I’m looking at two events, both in the offseason, which could be regarded as positives, although they might be considered symbolic.

The first was the extension of manager Terry Collins’ contract. A new manager would have meant the beginning of another rebuilding program. A new manager means new coaches and a new system, and with Harvey gone and other looming issues, we’re looking at an indefinite delay in the Mets’ rebuilding program.

Keeping Collins represented an endorsement by management its blueprint. It displayed a sense of confidence the team was heading in a positive direction.

Secondly, were the signings of Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon. Are these guys high-profile, high-impact additions? Probably not in the traditional sense, but during the Sandy Alderson era the Mets pointed to this winter as to when the organization would begin spending.

After letting Jose Reyes walk, trading R.A. Dickey and Carlos Beltran, and shedding the contracts of Johan Santana, Jason Bay and Oliver Perez, the Mets believed they were finally in position to financially compete.

Trouble is, too many Mets fans didn’t share the beliefs of Alderson and ownership. Too many times they had been disappointed, and again the Mets were asking their fans to believe.

Who knows how Granderson and Colon will work out? But, the Mets promised additions and lived up to their word. As with bringing back Collins, the additions the Mets made are indicative in a confidence they are moving forward.

And, considering how things had been since Beltran took that called third strike to end the 2006 NLCS, Mets fans need to take their positives when they can.

ON DECK: Tomorrow I’ll look at what I am looking forward to during the 2014 season.

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

Oct 18

Mets Wise To Pass On Cuban Abreu

Several people I spoke with and greatly respect said they were disappointed the Mets didn’t make a run at Cuban free-agent first baseman Jose Abreu, who signed a six-year, $68-million contract with the Chicago White Sox.

Considering the success of Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes and the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, all of a sudden tapping the Cuban market is the hot thing. Teams get burned touching hot objects.

Abreu, 26, last played on an international stage during the World Baseball Classic this spring and batted .360 with three homers and nine RBI. Prior to that, he batted .453 with 33 home runs and 93 RBI in 63 games in the 2010-11 season, but sustained a shoulder injury. The previous season, he batted .399 with 30 home runs and 76 RBI.

No doubt, impressive numbers, but the obvious question is: How good was the competition. Justin Verlander, Adam Wainwright and Clayton Kershaw don’t pitch in Cuba.

The eye-popping number for Abreu isn’t his power against questionable competition, but the $68 million, which is very real money.

That is a lot of money on a question, albeit an important one for the 2014 Mets. They already have two first basemen in Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, but both have greatly under produced and the Mets aren’t happy with either.

The White Sox traded Jake Peavy and Alex Rios to free up money for Abreu, and now have to deal with their own free-agent in Paul Konerko.

It has been suggested in this corner the Mets might be better if they eschewed big-money free agents and go the route Boston did, with veteran free agents who would command less money and would contribute a winning presence, such as Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino.

The Red Sox will play Game 6 of the ALCS Saturday night.

Yes, Konerko is an older player, but he can’t do any worse than Davis or Duda. If nothing, his work ethic might benefit some of the younger players.

The Mets have been down this road before, but Konerko could add something while Abreu was a passing fancy.

We know very little about Abreu as a player against quality competition, but there are many questions when deciding to go the international route. Mainly, do the Mets want to sink in $68 million in a player they know precious little about?

After freeing themselves under Sandy Alderson of the contracts of Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Francisco Rodriguez, Johan Santana and Jason Bay (there’s still some deferred money there), but last thing the Mets want to do is sink money in another long-term deal, especially with the possible results so precarious.

Maybe Abreu will pan out for the White Sox. If so, good for them. But, the last thing the Mets need is another long-term headache.

The Mets were wise to sit this one out.