Sep 07

Harvey Takes Big Step; Nimmo Homers Twice

Matt Harvey didn’t have a great line, but was impressive nonetheless. The Reds got to Harvey for single runs in the first two innings, but he regrouped to throw three scoreless innings to win his first game in three months.

HARVEY: Needs to step up. (AP)

HARVEY: Major improvement. (AP)

What started as another potential blowout, ended in optimistic feelings. And, the Reds can hit, with five players having at least 20 homers.

The turnaround was a seven-pitch third inning, something we haven’t often seen from the one-time Mets’ ace. The Mets are searching for signs Harvey isn’t washed up at age 28, and if he can build on this, then maybe his future isn’t so bleak, after all.

To get him through five innings, it’s a huge step for him,’’ manager Terry Collins. “His command was a lot better. … He should feel good about himself. As the game wore on, he was better with his mechanics.’’

Consequently, he kept the ball down, and was effective with his secondary pitches, in particular, his slider.

“I’m not where I want to be with my mechanics, but it was a step in the right direction,’’ said Harvey. “I know it’s going to take time. It has been a rough two years. I felt it was good for me to get five innings.’’

Another positive was getting two shutout innings from Jeurys Familia.

“This guy has pitched in the World Series, so he’s familiar with pitching under pressure,’’ Collins said. “But, what’s more important is getting his arm strength back and putting that blood clot behind him.’’

NIMMO SHINES: Brandon Nimmo slugged two homers and made a spectacular lunging catch in left field. Juan Lagares also homered, and Jose Reyes’ two-run single put the Mets ahead to stay.

It will be interesting to see where Nimmo fits into the Mets’ outfield plans for next season.

You have to figure with the injury concerns surrounding Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Confortothat Nimmo will make the Opening Day roster

INJURY UPDATES: David Wright called his decision to have rotator cuff surgery a “no brainer, because I want to play catch with my kids.’’ Regarding retirement, Wright said he hasn’t thought when: “I have had enough. I still feel I have something more to give.’’ … Wilmer Flores underwent surgery to repair a broken nose and will be shut down for the remainder of the season. … Noah Syndergaard gave up three runs in two innings in his second rehab appearance. … Asdrubal Cabrera will undergo an MRI tomorrow on his hamstring.

Aug 27

Next Year Brought Into Focus In Doubleheader With Nationals

With Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes currently on the disabled list and out for the rest of the season, Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares will get a bulk of the playing time.

Both distinguished themselves today, but in different ways.

For Nimmo, who hit third in the nightcap, his two-run homer briefly game the Mets a lead in the game they eventually lost, 5-4.

Lagares had two hits in the second game, but more impressive was how alertly he backed up right fielder Travis Taijeron on Daniel Murphy’s single to start a blurry fast relay to nail pinch-runner Edwin Jackson at the plate to end the game and preserve the Mets’ 6-5 victory.

D'ARNAUD: Blocks plate on game-ender. (AP)

D’ARNAUD: Blocks plate on game-ender. (AP)

Let’s assume Conforto’s pending shoulder surgery keeps him off the Opening Day roster, then Nimmo would likely play in right field to start the season. If not, he could start the season coming off the bench.

Nimmo isn’t a home run hitter, but there’s a lot to like about his enthusiasm and .378 on-base percentage. He can play off three outfield positions, so his versatility is a plus.

Lagares’ problem has been with his bat, but there’s nothing wrong with his defense.

That he backed up the plate is part of his job description, but with the Mets playing out the string, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see a role player just coast, but that’s not the case with Lagares.

Without Lagares’ awareness, the Mets might have lost the first game, too.

But, it’s plays like that, and Nimmo’s hitting, that should stand out to GM Sandy Alderson as he makes notes regarding next year.

LUGO PITCHES WELL:  Seth Lugo, in his start coming off the disabled list, gave up two runs on four hits with five strikeouts in the second game.

“I thought I threw the ball really well,’’ Lugo said. “I had life on my pitches and was hitting my spots.’’

Robert Gsellman was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room for Lugo on the roster.

In looking at next season, I see Lugo better suited as a starter and Gsellman coming out of the bullpen.

TWO FACES OF ROBLES:  We saw the two faces of Hansel Robles in today’s double-header.

In the first game Robles, struck out the only two hitters he faced. In the second game, Robles walked three straight batters, including the last two with the bases loaded to force in the tying and go-ahead runs.

Robles is wildly inconsistent, and if the Mets are auditioning for their bullpen for 2018, he must show more consistency, beginning with throwing more strikes.

The real problem I had with Robles’ second appearance was more with manager Terry Collins, who left the reliever in to walk three straight batters.

“You can’t walk guys in the big leagues,’’ Collins said. “You can’t walk three hitters in a row, like that.’’

I understand it was a double header and the bullpen was taxed, but you can’t leave a reliever in to walk three straight hitters.

Just bad managing.

THE METS AND DUSTY:  Both the Mets’ Collins and Nationals manager Dusty Baker are in the final years of their contracts.

Of course, that begs the question: If neither are brought back in 2018, would the Mets entertain signing Baker to manage them.

While the Mets are non-commital about Collins, Baker has let it be known he is interested in returning. If Baker does hook on with the Mets, it could cost them as he is making $4 million this year.

HARVEY UPDATE: Matt Harveys next game will be with the Mets. After four rehab starts – including 4.2 innings Saturday for Double-A Binghamton – the Mets announced he will be activated when the rosters are expanded Sept. 1.

The Mets will be in Houston then, so his first start will be against the Astros, who are slightly better than the Portland Sea Dogs. Harvey threw 72 pitches against Portland and probably won’t throw much more than that against Houston.

UP NEXT: The Mets are off today, then are in Cincinnati for the start of a three-game series against the Reds.

Aug 13

Mets’ Bright Spots In Lost Season

There are always a few rubies that can be found in this garbage dump of a Mets season. This year, the shiniest of the gems are Michael Conforto’s emergence of being a star and Jacob deGrom’s recovery from surgery to being an All-Star caliber starter.

The other highlights have been the production of traded Mets Jay Bruce and Addison Reed; the professionalism of Curtis Granderson; and promotions of Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith.

Once a question to even make the Opening Day roster, Conforto began the season in a pinch-hitting role, but his success, coupled with Granderson’s slow start and injuries to Yoenis Cespedes, increased his playing time and subsequently run production to the point where he made his first All-Star team.

CONFORTO: Huge bright spot. (AP)

CONFORTO: Huge bright spot. (AP)

Conforto’s two-run homer gave him his 26th of the season, but more importantly, the Mets a two-run lead in the first inning, one they never relinquished in today’s 6-2 victory over the Phillies.

Conforto hit 12 homers last season, so his home run ceiling was just a hunch. Now, with 26, you would think 35 could be within reach with 47 games remaining.

I’ve long advocated Conforto should hit third in the order, ahead of Cespedes, and hopefully manager Terry Collins will keep him there. I also like that even with the trade of Bruce, Collins is keeping Conforto in center field. If the rest of the season is about laying the foundation for 2018, then hit Conforto third and in center and leave him there – hopefully, for the next dozen years.

Conforto’s last five hits have been homers, and since the All-Star break has 12 homers with 23 RBI.

As for deGrom, he took a line drive off his pitching arm Thursday, but all indications are he’ll make his next start, Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. DeGrom is 13-5 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. The word “ace,’’ gets thrown around a lot, but it’s clear cut when talking about deGrom, who works fast, and despite an overpowering fastball, more importantly has excellent command of all of his pitches.

With Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey on the disabled list, and Steven Matz struggling and winless in over a month, deGrom has been the rotation’s workhorse

The Mets are clearly in a rebuild, salary dump mode, which is why Bruce, Reed, Lucas Duda and Neil Walker are gone, and Asdrubal Cabrera and Granderson could soon follow. Jose Reyes will stay to be Rosario’s caddy.

Bruce hit 29 homers with 75 RBI to lead the Mets, and has already made an impact with the Indians, going 5-for-12 with three RBI. You can describe Bruce, Reed, Walker and Granderson as consummate professionals.

Rosario booted a play in his debut that cost the Mets a game, but Bruce and Walker were seen in the dugout giving him counsel on what he should have done differently.

As for Granderson, he’s still being shopped, and maybe raised his value with three more hits today, including a two-run homer. He won’t be re-signed for 2018 and it is puzzling why there isn’t more interest. Granderson has four homers and nine RBI over his last ten games.

With Granderson, Bruce and the other veterans with expiring contracts assuredly not going to be here next season, the future belongs to Conforto, Rosario and Smith.

They, along with deGrom, give the Mets something to build on for next year.

 

Jul 04

Breakfast With The Mets

If we’re up early to watch the Mets, they damn well better be ready to play. And, Collins better be ready to manage his bullpen. … A lot of things have gone wrong for the Mets this season, and one of them is the pitching. Too many walks. Part of that has to be on Dan Warthen, who has been given a pass.

ALDERSON: Has done bad job. (AP)

ALDERSON: Has done bad job. (AP)

GM Sandy Alderson put together the bullpen on the cheap. The pitchers are coached by Warthen and Terry Collins decides when they go into the game. So far, it has been a trifecta of ineptitude. I understand injuries happen, but who decided to let Noah Syndergaard get muscle-bound and let him start without an MRI? That would be Alderson.

After Warthen said Matt Harvey would be full strength until late May/early June, who put him on the Opening Day roster when he should have stayed back for extended spring training? Why, that would be Alderson, too.

While we’re at it, who let Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy walk? Right again. That’s Sandy Alderson.

And who, as Kevin Kernan of the Post recently wrote, passed on drafting Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger? Hmm, could it possibly be Alderson? Right again.

If you think I’m too hard on Alderson, this is just the beginning.

Happy July 4th all. Enjoy the day with your friends and families, and the Mets if you want some agita.

 

Jun 16

How Mets Derailed Harvey’s Comeback

Stuff happens, but why does it always seem to happen to the Mets? Let’s not disregard GM Sandy Alderson as a possible explanation. That’s certainly the case with Matt Harvey‘s recent trip to the disabled list for stress to his shoulder that is the cause for his tired arm.

ALDERSON: Bears responsibility for Harvey. (AP)

ALDERSON: Bears responsibility for Harvey. (AP)

When Harvey’s fastball barely touched 90 in spring training, pitching coach Dan Warthen said following thoracic outlet surgery one couldn’t expect him to be at full strength until the end of May. On March 15, I wrote if the Mets had the guts to leave Harvey off the Opening Day roster. They did not, of course, which isn’t surprising.

If Harvey wasn’t going to be full strength until May, then why was he on the Opening Day roster? Manager Terry Collins doesn’t make those decisions, Alderson does.

Perhaps there was a sense of urgency on Alderson’s part because neither Steven Matz nor Zack Wheeler were expected to be ready for the Opening Day roster. Even so, that’s not a good enough reason. Just because one player is injured and not ready it doesn’t give Alderson license to rush another player who isn’t ready.

Alderson had the authority to keep Harvey behind and chose not to. As far as Harvey goes, he’s staring at the end of his career and certainly wouldn’t rock the boat regarding his treatment.

The bottom line is that once again an issue involving Harvey was mishandled, but this time it was the Mets’ doing.