Nov 20

Six-Man Rotation Won’t Happen For Mets

With the topic of cutting Matt Harvey’s innings comes the idea of a six-man rotation.

One reader threw it out there and my response was it was too bold for the Mets’ thinking. That’s part of it, but there other variables.

Baseball doesn’t change easily, and there was a time when the five-man rotation was a novelty. Six? It could happen sometime, but I don’t sense the Mets will be the trailblazers.

Here’s why I don’t think it will happen:

* Pitchers are creatures of habit, which are hard to break. They are accustomed to their present workload of starting every fifth day and adding another day would break that routine. Some might not mind, but Harvey, for one, would pitch a fit.

* Teams have made a considerable investment in their pitchers, and going to a six-man rotation would take away as many as seven starts a year. While that would be perfect for this season and Harvey, it won’t translate over the long haul. These guys want to pitch, and missing seven starts is a lot.

* The Mets have a plan for Noah Syndergaard, and it doesn’t include pitching before June and disrupting his Super Two status. Syndergaard will pitch this season, but not at the cost of moving up his arbitration year.

* The Mets are in position where things could break their way with their rotation and the last thing they want to do is make a move which would force all five starters to make an adjustment.

Six starters sounds good, but it won’t happen.

Oct 30

Free Agency Frenzy About To Begin; Mets Expected To Sit

The foul pop-up wasn’t even caught by Pablo Sandoval, when the question was already being asked: Will the Giants keep their free-agent third baseman?

Sandoval is one of several dozen players who became eligible for free-agency this morning, a list that includes Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, James Shields, Nelson Cruz, Hanley Ramirez, Melky Cabrera, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jonny Gomes. None of whom will likely play in Flushing this summer.

Of course, there is always Chris Young.

Michael Cuddyer has been linked to the Mets, but his asking price might be too steep to plug him into left field. He made $10.5 million last season, and I don’t see the Mets going that high. Especially since the Mets aren’t expected to add more than $10 million in payroll over the winter.

Here’s the list of free agents:

Catchers

John Buck, Angels
Ryan Doumit, Red Sox
Gerald Laird, Braves
Russell Martin, Pirates
Wil Nieves, Phillies
A.J. Pierzynski, Cardinals

Humberto Quintero, Mariners
David Ross, Red Sox
Geovany Soto, Athletics

First Basemen

Michael Cuddyer, Rockies
Corey Hart, Mariners
Lyle Overbay, Brewers

Mark Reynolds, Brewers

Second Basemen

Mark Ellis, Cardinals
Rafael Furcal, Marlins
Kelly Johnson, Orioles
Ramon Santiago, Reds

Shortstops

Clint Barmes, Pirates
Asdrubal Cabrera, Nationals
Stephen Drew, Yankees

Jed Lowrie, Athletics

John McDonald, Angels
Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers

Third Basemen

Alberto Callaspo, Athletics

Jack Hannahan, Reds
Chase Headley, Yankees
Pablo Sandoval, Giants

Outfielders

Norichika Aoki, Royals
Emilio Bonifacio, Braves
Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays
Endy Chavez, Mariners
Nelson Cruz,Orioles
Chris Denorfia, Mariners
Jonny Gomes, Athletics
Franklin Gutierrez, Mariners
Scott Hairston, Nationals
Torii Hunter, Tigers
Reed Johnson, Marlins
Ryan Ludwick, Reds
Mike Morse, Giants
Colby Rasmus, Blue Jays
Nate Schierholtz, Nationals
Ichiro Suzuki, Yankees
Josh Willingham, Royals
Chris Young, Yankees
Delmon Young, Orioles

Designated Hitters

Jason Giambi, Indians
Raul Ibanez, Royals
Victor Martinez, Tigers
Kendrys Morales, Mariners

Starting Pitchers

Scott Baker, Rangers
Chris Capuano, Yankees
Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles
Kevin Correia, Dodgers
Gavin Floyd, Braves
Jason Hammel, Athletics
Aaron Harang, Braves
Roberto Hernandez, Dodgers
Kyle Kendrick, Phillies
Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees
Jon Lester, Athletics
Colby Lewis, Rangers
Francisco Liriano, Pirates
Paul Maholm, Dodgers
Justin Masterson, Cardinals
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Mets
Brandon McCarthy, Yankees
Jake Peavy, Giants
Ervin Santana, Braves
Johan Santana, Orioles
Joe Saunders, Orioles
Max Scherzer, Tigers
James Shields, Royals
Carlos Villanueva, Cubs
Ryan Vogelsong, Giants
Edinson Volquez, Pirates
Chris Young, Mariners

Right-handed relievers

Matt Albers, Astros
Burke Badenhop, Red Sox
Matt Belisle, Rockies
Jared Burton, Twins

Joba Chamberlain, Tigers
Jesse Crain, Astros
Jason Frasor, Royals
Luke Gregerson, Athletics
Kevin Gregg, Marlins
Jason Grilli, Angels
Joel Hanrahan, Tigers
Luke Hochevar, Royals
Casey Janssen, Blue Jays
Jim Johnson, Tigers
Matt Lindstrom, White Sox
Nick Masset, Rockies
Jason Motte, Cardinals
Pat Neshek, Cardinals
Chris Perez, Dodgers
David Robertson, Yankees
Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers
Sergio Romo, Giants
Tim Stauffer, Padres
Koji Uehara, Red Sox
Jose Veras, Astros
Jamey Wright, Dodgers

Left-handed relievers

Joe Beimel, Mariners
Phil Coke, Tigers
Neal Cotts, Rangers
Scott Downs, Royals
Zach Duke, Brewers
Tom Gorzelanny, Brewers
Rich Hill, Yankees
Andrew Miller, Orioles
Franklin Morales, Rockies
Joe Thatcher, Angels

Oct 07

Handicapping Trade Value Of Mets Pitchers

To get something, you have to give something, but what the New York Mets don’t want to give up is their young pitching. Understandable, but how long can they hold out?

The Mets say they won’t deal Matt Harvey, remember there is no such thing as an untouchable. What if some team, in the words of Don Corleone, give them “an offer they can’t refuse.’’ If the Angels offered Mike Trout straight up for Harvey, that’s something I would seriously consider. Arguably the best position player in the game for a prospect with all of 12 major league victories? Who wouldn’t?

HARVEY: Everybody likes him. (AP)

HARVEY: Everybody likes him. (AP)

Let’s take a look at the Mets’ young arms in relation to their trade ability and the scenario in which they could be dealt:

MATT HARVEY: Everybody wants him and that’s a given. However, coming off Tommy John surgery there might be a twinge of reluctance of making a big offer although the odds of recovery are good. They might get more if Harvey rebounds with a good season, which would undoubtedly spike his value. The Mets delayed Harvey’s arrival to avoid arbitration and later free agency. But, that’s not to say he won’t eventually bolt when given the chance considering his sometimes rocky relationship with management. If he continues to perform well and the Mets don’t sign him to a long term contract, his contract would increase through arbitration. Sometime in that process, if they can’t get a long term deal done, they might seriously think of trading him off before he leaves as a free agent to the Bronx.

ZACK WHEELER: Some scouts say his stuff is better than Harvey’s, but he doesn’t have nearly the poise or knowledge of pitching. Harvey is way ahead in those areas. Wheeler is reminiscent of Nolan Ryan early in his career when he threw hard with no idea where the pitch would go. Wheeler tries too much for the strikeout, which elevates is pitch count and reduces his innings. His potential is so raw that he’s worth waiting for, but conversely it is so attractive there will be takers. Another thing about Wheeler, and this also applies to Harvey and Jacob deGrom, is they are under reasonable contracts. It’s not like a team is picking up Clayton Kershaw’s contract. Also, with all three the Mets don’t want to sign them to such contracts, but other teams could sense that as a sense of urgency.

JACOB deGROM: It would be a crime if he is not the Rookie of the Year. He’s closer to being where Harvey is than Wheeler. He’s got great stuff, an outstanding breaking ball, poise and a sense about what pitching is all about. He’s definitely more a pitcher than a thrower. Like Harvey in his first year, deGrom caught teams by surprise. It might be different in 2015. But, I like this guy and would be more disappointed if he were traded than Harvey or Wheeler.

NOAH SYNDERGAARD: Some scouts say he might be the best prospect of all, but we really won’t know what he has until he pitches at the major league level, which won’t be June at the earliest. He’s got a terrific breaking ball, great stuff and by all accounts could be the real thing. We shall see, and I hope we see it in Flushing.

JON NIESE: He’s left-handed, throws hard, 27 and signed to a reasonable contract. That makes him attractive to the Mets and other teams. What’s not to like? Well, there’s his injury history, inconsistency (only one winning season in seven years), and the bad habit of not being able to put away hitters and lets innings unravel. The argument is a change of scenery might help, but unlike the previous four mentioned his value has decreased.

RAFAEL MONTERO: He has loads of potential, but other teams also see that in him. He’s a lot like Jenrry Mejia in that the Mets haven’t found a definitive role for him. Starter or reliever? He could be in the rotation until Syndergaard is ready and Niese were traded. But, on Opening Day I see him either in the bullpen or Triple-A.

DILLON GEE: He’s rated no higher than a fifth starter and could be bumped to the bullpen when Syndergaard is ready. Too bad. Gee doesn’t have great stuff, but is mentally tough – until he gets to Philadelphia – and shows a lot of poise. He’s somebody that could get the Mets something at the deadline as he can also work out of the bullpen in long relief. There’s things a contender could like about him. Question is, will the Mets be such a contender? The Mets could have traded him numerous times, but there were no serious takers. That says something.

BARTOLO COLON: At 41, he threw over 200 innings and won 15 games. Was it all him, or did the move to the National League and spacious Citi Field have something to do with that? Colon will get $10 million in 2015, of which half of that will be gone by the trade deadline. If the Mets are in it, they’d be wise to keep him, but if he’s pitching well he could bring something in return in the right package. He’s being shopped, but nobody will offer anything until they explore the free-agent market.

BOBBY PARNELL: I remember the day he hit triple digits on the radar gun at Fenway Park. Buy, it never happened for him as a starter thanks to Jerry Manuel. He won the closer role in 2013, but missed last season because of an injury. Should Mejia or Jeurys Familia win the closer role and Parnell proves healthy in spring training, he could be attractive and available.

JENRRY MEJIA: When the Mets were bouncing him from the bullpen to the rotation his value declined. Especially when it lead to elbow surgery. Now, it was a sports hernia that cut his breakout season. Mejia showed he has the stuff to be a closer, especially since he’s learning how to pitch rather than just trying to blow heat past a hitter. There’s value here.

JEURYS FAMILIA: Had an outstanding rookie season and drew a lot of attention. Some believe he could be the closer of future, however some teams might think he could be a closer now. This is a tough one considering the fragile nature of constructing a bullpen. Of these three relievers, Parnell could be the most available, but also bring the least in return.

 

Feb 23

Terry Collins Announces Exhibition Starting Pitchers

New York Mets manager Terry Collins announced his rotation for the first five exhibition games Sunday morning.

Rafael Montero will get the ball for the exhibition opener this Friday against Washington at Tradition Field.

He will be followed by fifth-starter candidate John Lannan, March 1 against Miami; fifth-starter possibility Daisuke Matsuzaka, March 2 against St. Louis, at Jupiter; Noah Syndergaard, March 3 against Atlanta, at Orlando; Jonathon Niese, March 4 against Houston in Port St. Lucie.

Presumably, Zack Wheeler, who’ll throw batting practice today, Dillon Gee and Bartolo Colon will be next in line, but the order hasn’t been determined.

Relievers were not announced.

For the first game, the starters normally get two innings or roughly 30 pitches. The objective is to build them up to seven innings and 100 pitches.

Collins already said he is leaning towards Niese as his Opening Day starter against the Nationals.

It is unlikely Montero, who went 12-7 with a 2.78 ERA last year in 27 starts at Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas, will make the 25-man roster coming out of spring training.

ON DECK:  Could Matt Harvey Be A High Maintenance Super Nova?

 

Dec 15

Collins Is Hopeful That Wheeler Will Toss 200 Innings

WHEELER: High hopes for him.

WHEELER: High hopes for him.

As of now, the New York Mets don’t anticipate an innings limitations on Zack Wheeler, who was shut down for his last two starts in 2013. Wheeler threw 100 innings last year and said an innings limit hasn’t been determined, and if one is later on, it won’t be until after the season starts.

“We haven’t talked about [an innings limit],’’ manager Terry Collins said. “He should get over 200 if he goes out there 30?something times.  If he does that, he would have a heck of a year. When you’re getting those kinds of innings, you’re keeping your team in games.’’

Hopefully, that thinking won’t change and the Mets will not put the shackles on Wheeler, who won’t learn how to pitch on this level unless he does so.

Pitchers today wear down when they don’t accumulate innings. If a pitcher doesn’t build up his arm, he won’t have anything in the tank when he needs it. There are times when a pitcher has to learn to pitch in the eighth and ninth innings, when he’s running on fumes, when he just has to reach down.

Wheeler had his rough moments last summer, such as when he went away from his fastball and told to work in more on his secondary pitches. When that approach was adjusted to where he could work more off his fastball, Wheeler pitched well.

Collins said he believes Wheeler’s demeanor and emotional make-up could allow him to make a jump similar to what Matt Harvey made last season before he injured. Collins said Harvey learned how to make adjustments within a game and thinks Wheeler can do likewise.

“I’m hoping he takes the Matt Harvey step,’’  Collins said. “[Wheeler] now realizes he can fix it.  He realized all he had to do was make things.  He didn’t have to overthrow.

“He’s still got that great arm if he needs it.  His command of his secondary pitches got better.  I think his confidence rose as the season went along.  Again, I think the sky is the limit for what potential this guy has.’’

Wheeler told ESPN Radio he plans on reporting to spring training around Feb. 5, which is ten days before the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers.

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