Nov 30

Mets Blow It By Not Going After Phil Hughes

Since the New York Mets need pitching, it was discouraging to read reports they are not players for Phil Hughes.

Of all the players in the free-agent market I thought the Mets had a chance to sign, the 27-year-old Hughes was it, and with him, had the biggest chance to produce at minimum cost. Yes, he was 4-14 last season, but he is two years removed from winning 16 games.

HUGHES: Mets blew a chance.

HUGHES: Mets blew a chance.

Hughes wants two years, but the Mets will only guarantee one year. I’d give him two years in a second, maybe even two plus an option.

Hughes, who made $7.15 million last year, would have been worth the gamble.

Everybody has a bad year, and Hughes is no exception. When things are off, as they were last year – either mechanically or mentally – balls tend to fly when you get your pitches up in a bandbox.

Citi Field, with its spacious dimensions, would have been perfect for him. The same reason the Mets are willing to trade Ike Davis is the same reason they should take a run at Hughes – for the change of scenery.

Hell, last season when Mark Teixeira went down, I wrote the Mets should trade Davis for Hughes. It made sense then and it makes sense now.

What doesn’t make sense is not giving Hughes at least two years at the same time you give $7 million to Chris Young. What is going on here?

Frank Francisco got two years, but not Hughes?

When Citi Field was built, it was done with the idea of building around pitching and defense. The Mets currently say they want to build around their young pitching, but pass on a young arm that had success in New York and pitched in a World Series?

What is Sandy Alderson thinking about?

Hughes has never had an arm injury, which makes him even more attractive. With Matt Harvey not available until 2015 – and even then we don’t know what he’ll be – and the jury not out yet on Zack Wheeler and Rafael Montero, the gamble on Hughes turning it around would have been a good one.

The chance to sign a young pitcher, who is healthy, relatively inexpensive and who has tasted success in New York doesn’t come around every day and the Mets blew it.

What Alderson seems to be looking for is Justin Verlander to decide he wants to pitch pro-bono in New York.

The decision to sign Young was ridiculous and not well thought out, but the bottom line his Alderson thought he was worth the risk.

Hughes would have been a much better choice. The clock is ticking for Alderson and Young and Hughes have been bad decisions.

Really bad.

Nov 06

Mets Should Consider Yankees’ Phil Hughes And Joba Chamberlain; Both Could Be Bargains

The New York Mets don’t have to look far if they want to plug one of the holes in the back end of their rotation.

The Yankees have no interest in bringing back either Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain, and for those believing in the “change of scenery,’’ theory, they might be able additions to the Mets’ staff as they are 27 and 28, respectively.

HUGHES: Should be on Mets' radar.

HUGHES: Should be on Mets’ radar.

Although both have been injured during their short careers, they are healthy now, but largely ineffective.

Hughes was a miserable 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA last season in 30 starts and lost his spot in the rotation. However, he won 16 games in 2012 and 18 games in 2010. He was 8-3 when the Yankees won the World Series in 2009.

“This year has been a struggle for him,’’ Yankees manager Joe Girardi said in a classic understatement after the season.

Considering Hughes has experienced major league success, and has made at least 30 starts in three of the last four seasons, and twice in that span worked at least 175 innings.

Hughes made $7.15 million last season, not unreasonable for a starter with a recent history of durability.

It shouldn’t be underestimated that a significant explanation in part for Hughes’ trouble is that he’s a fly ball pitcher working in a phone booth. That’s a major contributor to his career 4.54 ERA and an average of 24 homers given up per season.

Citi Field, the lack of a designated hitter, and being away from the Yankee Stadium boo-birds could be the change he needs.

His salary isn’t unreasonable, and his age is a plus. This isn’t like signing Bronson Arroyo, who’ll be 37 in February, and wouldn’t be able to give the Mets more than a year or two.

As for Chamberlain, he’s been treated similar to Jenrry Mejia in that he was bounced around from the rotation to the bullpen earlier in his career before being a strict reliever the last four years.

Once considered the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera, Chamberlain sustained a shoulder injury in 2008 and eventually had Tommy John surgery in 2011. The following spring he mangled his ankle when he fell off a trampoline.

Chamberlain has lost something off his fastball, but still throws hard enough to get the job done.

Chamberlain earned just $1.8 million last season while going 2-1 with a 4.93 ERA in 45 appearances. He worked only 42 innings in 45 games. Overall, he’s worked only 444.2 innings during his career so there’s a lot of mileage left.

Considering their needs, the ages and salary history of Hughes and Chamberlain, both could become steals for the Mets.

LATER TODAY: I will take a look at Curtis Granderson as a possible fit into the Mets’ outfield.

Oct 03

Looking At Mets’ Free Agent Starting Pitching Options

GM Sandy Alderson said the New York Mets have the resources to shop this winter. However, it is more likely they will opt for several mid-tier free agents rather than cash it in on one number, such as it might take for Bartolo Colon or Tim Lincecum.

Given that, here’s his shopping list for this winter, beginning with the starting pitching. I will address the bullpen, catchers and position players over the next few days.

ARROYO: Interested in Mets.

ARROYO: Interested in Mets.

Everybody talks of the need for power, and I agree, but a bat is not as important as rounding out the rotation. History is dominated with slugging teams that didn’t win the World Series, or reach the playoffs.

When you consider the Mets’ postseason success, it has always been built on pitching over power.

With Matt Harvey a question, the free-agent market has several options of potential innings-eaters who could be had without breaking the bank, and I’m not talking about bringing back Johan Santana or Shaun Marcum, either.

While Alderson left the door open for Santana’s return, he likely said that as a courtesy. Santana is still rehabbing from a second surgery to repair a partially torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. The first surgery came in September 2010, but after a 19-month recovery, he blew out his shoulder in a hissy fit by making an unauthorized throwing session.

Santana underwent a second surgery April 2.

Safer options are bringing back Aaron Harang, whom the Mets hold an option for 2014, and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Alderson didn’t dismiss either as a possibility earlier this week.

Bronson Arroyo has already expressed an interest in the Mets, so I suspect Alderson will contact him. Arroyo was 14-12 with a 3.79 ERA while pitching 202 innings over 32 starts for the Reds.

He’ll be 37 in spring training and made $8.25 million last season. However, as a contender, Cincinnati could be justified that expenditure. That might not be the case with the Mets, but Arroyo is an innings horse, having pitched at least 199 in every year since 2005.

Personally, although he had a miserable season, I believe Phil Hughes could benefit from a change of scenery and the larger confines of Citi Field. He’s only 27 and two years ago won 16 games. In 2010, he won 18.

The Mets said they want to stay away from injury reclamation projects, but Toronto’s Josh Johnson is one of the most intriguing name on the list.

He recently had bone spurs removed from his elbow. A short-term contract loaded with incentives is the likely way to go. If you’re going to roll the dice on an injury, go with the soon-to-be 30 Johnson over Santana.

Johnson was 2-8 with a 6.20 ERA for Toronto after consecutive down seasons with Miami. However, he led the NL with a 2.30 ERA while striking out 186 batters in 2010.

Sure, he’s a risk, but would you rather have the Mets call back Mike Pelfrey?

COMPLETE LIST

* Denotes club has option

Bronson Arroyo
Scott Baker
Erik Bedard
Nick Blackburn *
A.J. Burnett
Chris Capuano *
Chris Carpenter
Bruce Chen
Bartolo Colon
Aaron Cook
Jorge De La Rosa
Scott Feldman
Gavin Floyd
Jeff Francis
Armando Galarraga
Jon Garland
Matt Garza
Roy Halladay *
Jason Hammel
Aaron Harang *
Rich Harden
Dan Haren
Roberto Hernandez
Tim Hudson
Phil Hughes
Ubaldo Jimenez *
Josh Johnson
Jeff Karstens
Hiroki Kuroda
John Lannan
Jon Lester *
Colby Lewis
Ted Lilly
Tim Lincecum
Derek Lowe
Paul Maholm
Shaun Marcum
Jason Marquis
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Brett Myers *
Ricky Nolasco
Mike Pelfrey
Andy Pettitte
Wandy Rodriguez *
Jonathan Sanchez
Ervin Santana
Johan Santana *
Joe Saunders *
James Shields *
Tim Stauffer
Jason Vargas
Ryan Vogelsong *
Edinson Volquez
Tsuyoshi Wada *
Chien-Ming Wang
Chris Young
Barry Zito

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

Sep 10

Mets’ Matt Harvey Wants To Avoid Surgery

Matt Harvey, the New York Mets’ best story of the season before an elbow injury sidelined him until, well, who really knows when?

Not Harvey, anyway. Harvey, speaking at an appearance at a Manhattan firehouse this afternoon along with David Wright, Zack Wheeler and CEO Jeff Wilpon, is insistent of eschewing surgery.

HARVEY: Doesn't want surgery.

HARVEY: Doesn’t want surgery.

“Everything feels fine. My arm feels great,’’ Harvey said. “I’m still very optimistic about everything. But I’m not a doctor, so we’ll see what happens.’’

Harvey is scheduled for a second opinion with Dr. James Andrews next week. Harvey said his arm feels “great,’’ but then again, he hasn’t pitched since Aug. 24 against Detroit, so it should feel good.

However, that time off hasn’t healed a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. Harvey is hoping the tear will heal itself with rest, but there exists the risk of him going into next season and tearing it worse and possibly missing all of 2015.

As it is, if Harvey opts for surgery, there is a chance he could pitch at the end of next season.

“If we do go the surgery route, having it sooner so maybe I can get back in September next year if that’s an 11-month process, that’s a possibility,’’ Harvey said. “But, like I said, we haven’t gotten that far. I’m not an M.D., so I don’t really know those answers.’’

Andrews should be able to provide those answers next week. In the interim, Harvey said he’ll talk with as many people as he can, but ultimately the decision is his.

There are no guarantees with or without surgery, but the odds might be in his favor if he takes the knife.

General manager Sandy Alderson has long projected 2014 as the year the Mets could reach competitive status because the contract of Johan Santana will be off the books and the team should have the latitude to spend this winter.

Alderson said the plan, as it should be, is to plan for 2014 without Harvey, and that includes shopping for a veteran free agent in the off-season.

The Mets might consider the Yankees’ Phil Hughes, whose style might be better acclimated to the larger Citi Field than bandbox Yankee Stadium.

Hughes, battered this season, has been demoted to the bullpen.

However, he’s healthy, and at 28, is young enough to turn it around, and the Mets could provide that opportunity.

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

Aug 27

Looking At Life For Mets Without Matt Harvey

Who didn’t watch the New York Mets-Phillies game last night with a bit of indifference? Sure, Zack Wheeler against Cliff Lee possessed an element of interest, but the air was sucked out of the Mets’ season with news earlier in the day Matt Harvey would be lost for the remainder of the year with a partial UCL tear in his elbow.

Tommy John surgery is expected.

HARVEY: Bare facts, Mets not same without Harvey. (ESPN)

HARVEY: Bare facts, Mets not same without Harvey. (ESPN)

Most of the night my mind was as if channel surfing with a remote, bouncing from issue to issue, from the blame game to where the Mets go from here.

Carlos Torres will get Harvey’s start Thursday, but from there, would it be him or will we get a look at Rafael Montero? Then again, will the Mets be overprotective of him, as they were with Wheeler, pulling him with two outs in the seventh after 105 pitches with the opposing pitcher coming up.

From an organizational standpoint, where will the Mets go from here?

The team has been promising it would compete in 2014, but that will be harder to do without Harvey. Then again, should the Mets not make a run for it next year because of Harvey’s injury, what message does that tell the rest of the team?

It basically tells them “sorry boys, you’re not good enough without Matt.’’ That’s not a great message to be sending your team. Look for the Mets to attempt to add a veteran arm, an innings eater, if you will.

He’s not a veteran in the conventional sense, but if I were the Mets I’d be considering Phil Hughes, who’s probably in need of a change of scenery, especially in Citi Field’s vast outfield.

The Mets, who not just two weeks ago were flirting with the idea of a six-man rotation, will be going with a patchwork staff.

The Mets might bring up Montero to fill in for Harvey for a couple of starts at least, even if it means a 40-man roster move. This might be a prudent move as preliminary spring training in anticipation of Montero replacing Harvey in the rotation next season.

Without Harvey, and the Mets after Wheeler’s loss last night, are now losers of five straight, seven of nine and 10 of 14 can pretty much say good-bye to .500, and with 13 games coming up with playoff contenders Atlanta and Cleveland, and seven against the Nationals, second place is fading fast.

ON DECK: Facing the prospect of not having Harvey next year, the Mets could reverse course and suddenly listen to offers for Marlon Byrd and John Buck in the final days of the deadline to make waiver deal.

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