Mar 17

No Brainer Harvey Opening Day Starter

In a decision best described as a “no-brainer,’’ the Mets announced this morning Matt Harvey will be their Opening Day starter, April 3, at Kansas City.

So, let me be the first to say, “Harvey will be coming out for the tenth inning.’’

HARVEY: Gets Opening Day call. (AP)

HARVEY: Gets Opening Day call. (AP)

I wonder how much Harvey’s ninth-inning, Game 5 meltdown went into manager Terry Collins’ decision to go with Harvey. After all, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard were also viable options. If there was any “we want top re-establish his confidence’’ thinking – which I doubt – Collins wouldn’t admit to it. I’m sure he’ll be asked about it until the season starts.

For the past three years, the Mets have done things to project Harvey as the team’s ace, not the least of which is his $4 salary, which exceeds the combined amount of the rest of their young rotation. This excludes, of course, Bartolo Colon, who is seemingly ageless.

Based on service time, sure, Harvey has to be the one. Also playing into the decision has to be some ego. Harvey can be brash at times, but he’s also sensitive and probably would take being passed over as a slight. That’s not a bad thing, but why would Collins want to ruffle his feathers?

Harvey was thrilled with the appointment.

“It’s a huge honor,” Harvey told reporters. “A year after surgery, I’m 100 percent. It’s interesting how the schedule took place. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. It will bring back a lot of memories, but also bring out a lot of fire.”

Maybe that was part of Collins’ thinking.

There have been no issues surrounding Harvey based on protecting his surgically-repaired elbow, which is a great sign. I wrote several weeks ago Harvey should get the ball, and before that, projecting him to win 20 games this summer.

I was right on one. Hopefully, I’ll be correct on the other.

 

Mar 16

Interesting Fallout Created With Tejada Cut

When St. Louis shortstop Jhonny Peralta injured his left thumb there was immediate speculation the Cardinals would make a run at the Mets’ Ruben Tejada. It was thought the Mets might hang on to him after Asdrubal Cabrera hurt his knee, but that thinking was quickly dashed.

With Tejada clearing waivers and subsequently waived Wednesday, the initial thought of Tejada to the Cardinals seems like a slam dunk now since they don’t have to give up any players.

Another possibility, which would be the ultimate irony are the Los Angeles Dodgers with their shortstop Corey Seager is currently out with a knee injury and might not be ready for Opening Day.

With Cabrera possibly opening the season on the disabled list, and Tejada now gone, Wilmer Flores could be the Opening Day shortstop for the Mets. This scenario also opens the way for Matt Reynolds and Eric Campbell making the Opening Day roster, something nobody could have anticipated.

 

Mar 14

Mets Handling Wright Correctly

The Mets continue to handle David Wright with kid gloves, which is the only way to go. Wright, who has yet to play in an exhibition game this spring, singled in five at-bats in a minor-league intrasquad game today. Wright didn’t play in the field.

As of now, the plan is to get Wright into a dozen exhibition games, and there’s no idea as to how many games he’ll play this season.

Wright will play in minor league games Tuesday and Thursday, and possibly getting in a regular season game for the first time on Friday.

“You don’t know what to expect your first time taking at-bats as far as timing and stuff, and that was really secondary to going out there, simulating some at-bats in a game-like situation,” Wright told TCPalm.com. “Taking some swings, trying to run to first base, run the bases a little bit – I thought it went great. Obviously, the biggest thing now is try to get some timing, but I feel mechanically health-wise, I thought it worked out great. Now it’s just a matter of doing it over and over again.”

Wright does up to 90 minutes of stretching and exercising prior to each game, so even if he’s not playing his body is taking a toll.

So, even if you don’t notice Wright’s name in a box score, understand he’s still working and his body is being taxed. Hopefully, it will pay off.

 

Mar 13

Vegas Should Be The Place For Plawecki

The Mets finally acknowledged what they probably should have all along and that’s catcher Kevin Plawecki – projected as a back-up to Travis d’Arnaud – might begin the season at Triple-A Las Vegas. That’s probably the best thing for all concerned.

PLAWECKI: Should open season in Vegas. (Mets)

PLAWECKI: Should open season in Vegas. (Mets)

Manager Terry Collins, while saying nothing has been determined, admits this will be a topic amongst the Mets’ hierarchy in the coming weeks. It’s an age-old debate: Is Plawecki better served backing up d’Arnaud and maybe playing twice a week on the major league level, or being in Vegas where he’ll start and get consistent at-bats?

If Plawecki goes, then Johnny Monell will probably make the 25-man Opening Day roster.

“We haven’t had that discussion as to where he’s going to fit the best, or what we think is the best for everyone involved,” Collins told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “That has not taken place. What we’ve got to do is take what we think are the best 25 and get out of the gate and go from there. If the conversation goes to where, ‘Hey, look, we need to have this guy ready to be an everyday guy,’ he may have to go play [in Las Vegas].

“If we think we’re better off being able to get him two to three games a week at times [backing up d’Arnaud], then he’s got a good chance of making the club.”

As of now, I’m thinking the minors is the place for Plawecki. In their perfect world, Plawecki and d’Arnaud would compete and the loser would be traded. Plawecki appears to be the better prospect – and d’Arnaud seemingly can’t throw out a baserunner if he was crawling to second.

It’s hard to project the trade value for either player because neither has played a full season or in d’Arnaud’s case, without injury. I’d be guessing if I projected either as the Opening Day 2017 starter. For now, d’Arnaud should be with the Mets next month and Plawecki in Vegas.

Mar 09

Why I Will Always Miss My Friend Shannon

At the end of the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” were the words you can judge a person’s worth by the number of friends they have. If that’s an accurate measure, then Shannon Forde is one of the richest people I ever met.

Hundreds of her family, friends and colleagues honored her life this afternoon in a memorial service at Citi Field. They all left saddened by her passing last Friday from breast cancer, but also grateful for having known her and her being in their lives. I don’t think there was a person there who don’t believe their lives weren’t enriched by knowing her/

Goodbye, Shannon.

Goodbye, Shannon.

So many words have been so eloquently written and spoken about Shannon over the past few days. Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record and David Lennon from Newsday wrote especially moving remembrances. They wrote pieces that when her children, Nick and Kendall, read in twenty years, will gain a greater appreciation of what she meant to those in the baseball community and how special their mom was to so many.

To the Mets players – David Wright said she was the team mom – and to those in the media, who combined made countless demands on her time that she always met with a smile, she was a rock. There were so many media members who no longer cover the Mets who made their way to Citi Field. That’s the kind of impression she made on people.

To the hundreds at Citi Field today that paid their respects, they learned more about her as a mother, wife, friend and colleague through the beautiful remembrances from team vice president Jay Horwitz and Wright, who said the championship belt given each player after every victory this year will have a shamrock and pink ribbon in her memory.

Horwitz and Wright spoke how Shannon touched their lives; Klapisch and Lennon, and others in the media wrote the same.

I first met Shannon when I covered the Yankees, but it didn’t matter, she was always helpful. I got to know her better when I moved to the Mets’ beat. I didn’t work for The New York Times, but she treated me with the same courtesy and respect as the writers from the bigger papers.

When I left the beat and covered the team on this blog, she still treated me with the same courtesy and respect she did when I worked for the paper.

I relayed this story to Wright and Klapisch this afternoon and both said that was just like her. That she was, in a word, “genuine.”