Mar 24

Mets’ Handling Of Harvey’s Starts Leads To Speculation

On one hand, I admire Mets GM Sandy Alderson’s veiled attempt at honesty. He admitted today the decision not to start Matt Harvey over Jacob deGrom for the Mets’ home opener is partially based on ticket sales. The Citi Field home opener will likely draw a full house anyway, so the Mets are saving Harvey for later in the homestand.

HARVEY: Already there are questions. (MLB)

HARVEY: Already there are questions. (MLB)

Alderson explained to reporters the timing of when to pitch Harvey: “Look, we take a lot of things into account. I think the first and foremost is: Does any pitcher deserve to pitch in a game of that sort? And I think that was the primary focus. You’re assuming people are more interested in seeing Harvey pitch than Jacob. That’s probably true, but not something that I would acknowledge.’’

Of course, he won’t because the Mets’ decision spoke for itself. Alderson also acknowledged other considerations and didn’t discount ticket sales. How the Mets handled announcing their starting rotation and saving Harvey for later in the first homestand screams several things, and none of them very good:

* The front office isn’t on the same page with manager Terry Collins. But, if that’s not the case, then Collins – as I suggested Monday – isn’t being decisive. There have been reports Alderson and Collins aren’t working in harmony and this doesn’t discount that thinking.

* The indecision when Harvey would make his first two starts indicates they don’t have a definitive plan to limit his innings. They will fly by the seat of their pants and hope for the best, just like many of us thought all along. Frankly, I believe the Mets are afraid to annoy Harvey, who has already shown little regard for management’s decisions. If they are thinking placating Harvey now will give them an edge when he becomes a free agent, they are kidding themselves.

* If weather is a factor as suggested by saving Harvey for the afternoon game in Washington instead of Opening Day, that raises concerns about his physical status. The Mets are banking on a warmer day for the season’s third game instead of the first. If it’s really cold in Washington when he’s scheduled to pitch, will the Mets pull him? Either he’s ready or he’s not. It’s not that hard. If that’s the case, then why not keep him in Florida for an extended spring training and bring him up in May? If they did that, then both the weather and Harvey’s innings become moot points. They obviously won’t as to not alienate Harvey.

* If saving Harvey for later in the first homestand is so the Mets can sell a few more tickets, that tells you how financially solvent they are heading into the season. What difference will those extra tickets make? How will that money be spent? Harvey might be the Mets’ best pitching draw, but he’s no Tom Seaver or Dwight Gooden in that regard. That’s penny pinching and it tells you they really aren’t ready to compete, because that costs money.

Basically, we’re talking about several thousand extra dollars. If that’s going to make that much of a difference, then the Mets aren’t ready to get off the porch and run with the big dogs.

 

 

Mar 22

Harvey Looks Ready

It was encouraging for us and the Mets to watch Matt Harvey mow down the Yankees this afternoon. It is cliché to say it was effortless, but it definitely looked as if he could go longer than the 5.2 innings he cruised through on 60 pitches.

HARVEY: Looks ready. (Getty)

HARVEY: Looks ready. (Getty)

Harvey gave up two hits, walked none and didn’t strike out a batter in today’s 6-0 victory over the Yankees. Both his walks and strikeouts showed an economy in pitch counts.

“That was a test, and obviously the workload was increasing,’’ Harvey told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “I felt pretty good into the sixth inning and was commanding pretty much everything.’’

Harvey definitely looks ready for the season, and in normal springs would be the Opening Day starter. That’s moot because the Mets announced today Bartolo Colon would get the first game of the year and Jacob deGrom would get the home opener at Citi Field.

Command is essential and something Harvey knew might come to him after velocity.

“Coming in, I knew that was possibly an issue with Tommy John surgery,’’ said Harvey, who has thrown 9.2 consecutive scoreless innings in his last two starts. “So, for me, really concentrating on throwing strikes, pounding the zone and kind of picking up where I left off was very impLortant.’’

Which is what he’s done.

EXTRA INNINGS: Juan Lagares, David Wright, Lucas Duda and Eric Campbell homered for the Mets. … Manager Terry Collins said he doesn’t plan to platoon Duda with Michael Cuddyer early in the season. … Wilmer Flores fouled a ball off his left foot and left the stadium in a walking boot. … The Mets are in Jupiter Monday to play Miami, with deGrom going against Mat Latos.

Mar 20

Mets Matters: Murphy Could Go On DL; Syndergaard Optioned

The hits keep coming for the Mets, who could start the season with Daniel Murphy on the disabled list with a pulled right hamstring. The initial prognosis was tightness in the hamstring, but after a MRI the injury was called a pulled muscle.

When will GM Sandy Alderson ever learn not to label an injury until all the exams are completed? First Wheeler, then Murphy, then Josh Edgin, then Vic Black … one day it is one thing and the next it is something else, usually worse.

mets mattersAnd, let’s not forget Bobby Parnell, who has been pushed back again, this time from today until tomorrow.

“He’ll be out a week or so, maybe a little longer,’’ Alderson told reporters about Murphy’s injury. “Hamstrings take longer than people want to admit.’’

Alderson also said today either prospect Matt Reynolds or Danny Muno could make the roster coming out of spring training if Murphy is placed on the disabled list.

SYNDERGAARD OPTIONED: If a player on the 40-man roster is still camp by then end of today and is injured, he is entitled to major league service time if the injury extends into the start of the season.

Given that, it is easy to understand why Noah Syndergaard, who took a baseball off his left ankle Thursday – while playing catch of all things – was optioned to the minor league camp.

Syndergaard had X-rays taken and Alderson said the prospect is “more or less fine,’’ which means this is was purely done for long-range economic reasons.

ALDERSON ENDORSES FLORES: Murphy’s injury will not forced the Mets to move Wilmer Flores to second base and use Ruben Tejada at shortstop.

“Wilmer is the shortstop. Wilmer is the shortstop,’’ Alderson said. “It’s taken us this long to convince you guys that Wilmer is the shortstop.’’

EXTRA INNINGS: Bartolo Colon, who gave up two runs on six hits in 4.2 innings in Friday’s 5-4 victory over St. Louis, is currently lined up to be the Opening Day starter. … Steven Matz is scheduled to start Saturday.

Mar 19

The Mets Will Need All That Pitching Depth They Treasure

The Mets have been boasting about their depth in pitching, and they will need it in the wake of season-ending injuries to Zack Wheeler and reliever Josh Edgin.

They will also be without Bobby Parnell to start the year and Vic Black could also open on the disabled list. Wheeler, Edgin and Parnell have elbow problems; Black has a bum shoulder.

GEE: Strong effort today. (AP)

GEE: Strong effort today. (AP)

That’s four pitchers the Mets counted on who won’t be available.

The Mets believe there is a high upside for Wheeler, but frankly if Gee gives them his best numbers of 13 victories (13 in 2011), 32 starts and 199 innings (both in 2013), that would be more than they could hope for. (Wheeler’s best numbers were 11 victories, 32 starts and 185.1 innings last season.

Gee and Rafael Montero showed today why the Mets were lucky they weren’t able to deal both, or either, this winter. Gee and Montero have been termed expendable by the Mets because of the promise of Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.

With Wheeler out for the season, Gee is back in the rotation and was stretched out today in the form of 3.2 scoreless innings against the Astros. As for Montero, he was also stretched out today with 3.2 innings – one run on two hits – also against Houston.

Gee knows how fickle things can be, but he’s happy for now.

“I was almost a little nervous for today – just having to start again,’’ Gee told reporters. “It’s exciting. And I get adrenaline every time I get to do something I really love to do.

“It was nice. I tried to stay within myself and work on things and take it for what it was, but it was exciting to get back out there and do what I like to do.’’

With Gee back in the rotation, Montero is ticketed for the bullpen, that is, of course, unless another pitcher goes down.

Like the rotation, the back end of the Mets’ bullpen seemed secure, but without Edgin and now Black, things are unsettled beyond Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Carlos Torres. Figure Montero for a spot, along with Buddy Carlyle, who could be a free-agent if he’s not on the Opening Day roster.

However, that’s only five out of a potential seven relievers. At one time the Mets were concerned about getting a lefty reliever. Now they need multiple arms.

The old saying is true, in that you can never have enough pitching.

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets swept their split-squad games, beating Houston, 3-1, and the Cardinals, 7-2. … Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson homered against the Astros. … Jon Niese gave up one run on three hits in four innings against St. Louis. … Parnell is scheduled to pitch in a minor league game Friday. … Daniel Murphy left the game against St. Louis in the first inning with tightness in his right hamstring.

Mar 12

Edgin Facing Surgery; Lefty Pen Void Critical

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said treating Josh Edgin’s left elbow isn’t a black and white decision, but that’s clearly not the case.

“It’s not a black-and-white situation,’’ Alderson told reporters Thursday morning. “There’s a certain amount of gray area that requires some judgment on the physician’s part as well as Josh deciding exactly how he wants to approach it. … The question is whether this condition can be managed over time. That’s where we are.’’

EDGIN: Facing season-ending surgery. (AP)

EDGIN: Facing season-ending surgery. (AP)

Not true. Based on the reported information, if Edgin wants to continue his career Tommy John surgery is the only option. Managing over time? Well, that’s when Edgin will make the decision, and even Alderson said it must be made by the end of the month as to not impact next year.

Yes, time is of the essence.

Edgin will first confer with a doctor – this would be a second opinion – then talk with teammates Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, both of whom have had the surgery.

Alderson said there’s no harm in first trying rest and rehab for two weeks, but that won’t repair a stretched ligament by itself. The pain could subside, but eventually it will resurface, and who is to say there might not be more damage, like the ligament snapping?

The gamble is how long can Edgin pitch without blowing out the elbow entirely?

If anybody suggests this isn’t a big deal, they would be wrong. I’m not a doctor, but this much I know, things like this don’t repair themselves.

What is clear regardless of how Edgin decides, is he won’t be on the Opening Day roster, whether he opts to rest or have surgery, and the Mets have a huge void to fill. The internal options are Scott Rice, Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin, Dario Alvarez and Jack Leathersich, with Duane Below and Darin Gorski in the minor league camp.

They could also wait until the end of spring training and hope somebody who has been released.

They also have prospect Steven Matz, whom they refuse to try in that role even though he has the best stuff of any of them.

All of this means the Mets must make a deal. Remember Alderson’s talk about being capable of winning 90 games and possibly contending? Well, that possibility is gone without a left reliever.

If the Mets are as good as they claim, then it is time to show it and make a deal.

Now.

ON DECK: Today’s game and lineups.