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.”

Mar 08

Mets Matters: Harvey Has Solid Spring Debut

Matt Harvey threw 41 pain-free pitchings, mostly at 96 mph., in his exhibition debut Tuesday against the Braves. Harvey threw seven pitches in the first inning and overcome bases-loaded situations in the second and third innings at the cost of one run.

All in all, not a bad first start.

mets-matters logoHarvey told his reporters his “arm felt great,” and he thought it was good for him to get into – and escape – trouble.

“That’s what spring is about,” Harvey said. “You have to amp things up and get into those situations. You’re never really going to learn from anything if you go 1-2-3 with seven or eight pitches throughout the whole thing. Obviously, it’s spring training. Getting into those situations where you’re adrenaline starts pumping up a little bit, it’s good practice.”

It’s also a relief the element of the unknown in coming off Tommy John is gone. Harvey said it takes a load off not having to answer questions all the time about his arm. This spring the questions are directed at Zack Wheeler.

EXTRA INNINGS: David Wright didn’t play today, won’t play tomorrow and nobody knows for sure when he’ll play. However, he did say he will be ready for Opening Day. … ESPN reported St. Louis might inquire into the Mets about Ruben Tejada now that Jhonny Peralta could miss up to three months with a thumb ligament injury. … Jacob deGrom will start Wednesday.

Mar 08

No Brainer Harvey Will Be Opening Day Starter

The Mets like to say they don’t have one ace, but a whole rotation full of aces. It’s the politically correct thing to say, of course. It’s also nonsense because everybody knows it’s a no-brainer Matt Harvey will get the ball on Opening Day in Kansas City.

HARVEY: Should be the OD starter. (Getty)

HARVEY: Should be the OD starter. (Getty)

Jacob deGrom had a better season statistically – traditionally a yardstick in naming an Opening Day starter – and Noah Syndergaard might have a higher upside, but Harvey is the arm the Mets first boast about.

Harvey, today’s starter against the Braves at Disney, last pitched in Game 5 of the World Series when he convinced manager Terry Collins to go out for the ninth inning, and we all know how that worked out for the Mets.

Harvey was 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA last year, but most importantly in his comeback season from Tommy John surgery was he made 29 regular-season starts and threw 216 total innings without any hint of re-injury.

Many times in the second year back from surgery the pitcher will come back even stronger and there are reports from Florida Harvey’s slider is back and his fastball has that last-second bite it lacked at times in 2015.

Harvey will make over $4 million this year, more than deGrom, Syndergaard, Matz and Zack Wheeler combined. The Mets will say when they finally make the official announcement money had nothing to do with their decision, but that would be a misnomer.

Harvey makes the most because his age put him first in line. That’s a fact, but it’s also symbolic. You see, the Mets were going to rebuild with their young pitching and Harvey was the first. He was the one they were going to build around.

Then came Wheeler, and deGrom, then Syndergaard and Matz. Come July when Wheeler is back and Bartolo Colon is relegated to the bullpen, will the Mets’ rebuilding plan be whole.

But, symbolically Harvey was the first step, which is why he’ll get the ball in Kansas City. It’s symmetry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 07

The Telling Distinctions Between Colon And Pelfrey

The unveiling of the 2016 Mets’ starting rotation this week unveils an interesting match-up Monday when Bartolo Colon goes against former Mets Ace of the Future Mike Pelfrey in a split-squad game against Detroit.

In the other split-squad game, Steven Matz starts against St. Louis. Matt Harvey starts Tuesday, followed by Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. No, you can’t determine from this who will be the Opening Day starter.

But, there’s intrigue with Colon vs. Pelfrey in it shows a contrast of styles and expectations. It also explains why one is a Met and another is not.

PELFREY: What could Wright say that would help? (Getty)

PELFREY: What could Wright say that would help? (Getty)

Colon was signed as a two-year stopgap when Harvey went down. However, he exceeded all expectations, kept the team afloat at times and even proved his worthiness working out of the bullpen. And, there was never any shortage of comic relief.Colon exceeded all expectations by mostly doing two things: 1) throwing strikes, and 2) minimizing the damage when things got dicey.

Colon exceeded all expectations by mostly doing two things: 1) throwing strikes, and 2) minimizing the damage when things got dicey.

For the most part, Colon cut off big innings before they developed. Had Pelfrey done those things with any consistency, he might still be with the Mets.

What do you remember most about Pelfrey? For me, it was his habit of letting little things get to him which eventually turned into big innings. This was never more apparent than three balks in one inning against San Francisco. Most pitchers don’t balk three times in one year. Guess how many career balks Harvey, deGrom and Syndergaard have in their careers?

Yup, zero.

All three, while not perfect, have the ability to maintain their composure while under pressure and to throw strikes. There were times Pelfrey resembled a right-handed Oliver Perez. Enough said.

I always liked Pelfrey, but he drove me crazy to watch him at times. And, you could see it coming. If he didn’t get a strike call, or there was an error, or a broken-bat blooper, or any of a half-dozen other things.

When something went wrong Pelfrey would start chewing on that damned mouth guard and the strike zone would disappear. One walk would become two would become three and before you knew it the Braves or Phillies or whoever would have three runs.

Those were long days.

Meanwhile, nothing seems to bother Colon, who is always full of surprises, such as that behind the back flip in Miami.