Oct 01

Matt Harvey Major Topic In Mets’ Organizational Meetings

Matt Harvey is a major topic of discussion for the New York Mets’ front office as they began organizational meetings today in Port St. Lucie.

General manager Sandy Alderson must operate under the assumption Harvey will not be ready to start next season, and as he has yet to begin throwing, the Mets must prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Understandably, Harvey does not want surgery – who does? – and wants to rest and later rehab in the hope of being ready for spring training.

HARVEY: Mets can't bet on him for 2014.

HARVEY: Mets can’t bet on him for 2014.

“The fact that he’s not throwing now, I wouldn’t say is concerning, but we need to see some progress,’’ Alderson said. “I hope that he will be throwing shortly. I want to emphasize this isn’t a rehab program. This is a diagnostic program. We’ll see what happens.’’

If he doesn’t start throwing soon the diagnosis is this isn’t going to work and surgery should be forthcoming.

Harvey said in mid-September he would undergo a six-to-eight week throwing program instead of immediately having Tommy John surgery. That was over three weeks ago and Harvey hasn’t thrown yet. Alderson said pitching in the Arizona Fall League was a possibility, but appeared to back off that before leaving for Florida.

As of now, I would bet against Harvey pitching in Arizona.

If Harvey eventually opts for surgery he will miss most, if not all, of next season. The risk of eschewing surgery is if he starts 2014 and re-tears the ligament he would not only miss what would be left of next season but also 2015.

That means the Mets might not have him for two, instead of one year. If Harvey opts for surgery now there is a possibility he could return late next September and be ready for 2015.

Alderson said, “Harvey does influence what we do in the off-season.’’

Alderson said it isn’t likely the Mets would go after an upper-tier free-agent pitcher, but said they would explore going after an innings eater. He said bringing back Aaron Harang and/or Daisuke Matsuzaka are possibilities, noting he has only three givens in next year’s rotation: Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee.

The Mets should bring back both Harang and Matsuzaka, as both pitched well enough to warrant the spring training invite.

Alderson said Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard aren’t ready, but hopes a mid-level free agent “could get us to them.’’

Meanwhile, Harvey is working with physical therapists and isn’t close to being ready for the Arizona Fall League, which begins Oct. 8.

“He needs to throw to a near-competitive level, pain-free, and perhaps on more than one occasion,’’ Alderson said about Harvey being ready for the Fall League.

As of now, that’s not going to happen.

The Mets’ off-season plan as of now, and it is the right option, is to sign a mid-level free agent instead of trading their young pitching for a proven starter.

“We have to be careful we don’t turn a strength into a weakness,” Alderson said. “With Matt out, it makes it a little more difficult to give up two or three guys we know are right on the cusp.’’

It is not out of the possibility Alderson might entertain bringing back Johan Santana on a reduced salary, after they buy out his 2014 contract for $5.5 million.

Santana said he isn’t ready to retire, and nobody knows his physical condition better than the Mets.

“I think that’s a possibility,’’ Alderson said. “I don’t really know what Johan’s thinking. We’ll talk to him, I’m sure, over the next couple of weeks but I think he wants to pitch.

“We’ll just have to see what the market is for these guys and how much of our resources we want to allocate to somebody coming off injury or somebody you hope was able to pitch for you at a higher level.’’

If the Mets are to take a gamble on a pitcher coming off an injury, it makes more sense to talk to Santana – whom they know – rather than somebody they don’t know.

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Sep 27

Mets Wrap: Pitching Should Be Mets’ Offseason Priority

By definition, Carlos Torres gave the New York Mets a quality start tonight – three runs in six innings – which is usually good enough to win most starts.

However, the Mets aren’t scoring much these days, and didn’t again tonight in a second straight 4-2 loss to Milwaukee, a team they should beat.

Terry Collins started his 128th different batting order out of 160 games tonight, which is as telling a stat as there is to define the 2013 Mets. Most of that is attributable to injuries and poor performance – notably Ike Davis – but indicates a lack of offensive consistency and depth

TORRES: Could get spring training invite.

TORRES: Could get spring training invite..

The popular belief is the Mets need to upgrade their offense, which is true, but is it really their top priority?

Factoring having David Wright for a full season; improvement that comes from experience with Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker; having Eric Young for a full season; developing a consistent batting order; and, of course, the annual hope of whether Davis or Lucas Duda will find it, the Mets’ offense should be better in 2014.

Adding a bat is important, but is it imperative?

As is usually the case, pitching should be their primary concern, especially considering general manager Sandy Alderson has just three starters heading into spring training: Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler, the latter who was scratched from his final start with shoulder soreness.

Torres’ start tonight underscores the Mets’ need to add pitching. Theoretically, if the Mets pitch well their offense should improve enough to manufacture enough runs to be competitive.

The odds are long the Mets will have Matt Harvey for 2014, so they have two slots to fill in the rotation.

Torres has been valuable out of the bullpen in long relief and as a spot starter. He’s pitched well enough to get a spring training invite. What he did tonight is what the Mets need in a fifth starter, but he might be more valuable in long relief.

Saturday’s starter, Aaron Harang, should also be invited to spring training. I had my doubts, but Daisuke Matsuzaka has pitched well recently and would likely also be invited to spring training.

Prior to the game Collins said he doesn’t anticipate Rafael Montero or Noah Syndergaard cracking the rotation coming out of spring training, which means adding a veteran arm, especially one who has a taste of playing on a winning team, should be their priority.

When Citi Field opened, the Mets said they would build around pitching, speed and defense. Power is great, but it isn’t essential in building a winner. The Mets should emphasize that mentality in constructing their 2014 team.

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Sep 25

Mets’ Collins Can’t Say Goodbye To Summer With Matsuzaka

Terry Collins has been endorsed by this blog several times to come back to manage the New York Mets next season, but only if that is a multi-year contract. Collins should tell the Mets “no thanks,’’ and walk away if the contract offer is for one year or one plus an option. Anything else puts him in lame duck status and that’s not fair.

Collins doesn’t have many “serious’’ choices left season, excluding the naming of his lineup. In that regard, Collins would be absolutely foolish to start Daisuke Matsuzaka as the starter in the season finale Sunday at Citi Field.

NIESE: Want to see him one more time. (AP)

NIESE: Want to see him one more time. (AP)

“I’ll probably go with Daisuke,’’ Collins told reporters in Cincinnati prior to today’s game. “He’s one of those guys who loves to pitch. He could throw 125 pitches in a game and be ready to go three days later without being the worse for wear.’’

I don’t give a damn if he loves to pitch. And, regardless of how many pitches he throws he won’t have another game three days later. Based on his performance for the Mets, he might not get a spring training invite to Port St. Lucie. He should only get one if the Mets are thin on starters, definitely not on merit.

So, why bother starting him? The ball has to go to Jon Niese, and if the reasons aren’t obvious to Collins, allow me the liberty to point them out.

Matsuzaka’s body of work with the Mets has been slightly above that of bad. It is the last day of another loss season, so why would you want to leave the fan base of that as the season’s last memory? Why give them a foul taste?

It is reminiscent of Jerry Manuel’s decision to pitch Oliver Perez in the final game of the 2010 season. Perez had been a cancer, both on the mound and in the clubhouse, that year yet Manuel decided to leave that image. Maybe, and I don’t discount this, he was sticking it to the Mets, whom he knew wouldn’t bring him back.

Maybe he was telling the fans who continually booed him to go to hell. Who knows? We haven’t heard from Manuel since.

In contrast, the Mets are negotiating to bring back Collins, so why, on a day the franchise is honoring Mike Piazza, will he want to leave Matsuzaka as the “good-bye to 2013’’ image?

Just not smart.

The start has to go to Niese, who will be part of the franchise’s future. Don’t chance injury by taxing him, although it will be on short rest. Give him five innings max and turn it over to the relievers who have a chance to make next year’s team: Vic Black, Jeurys Familia, LaTroy Hawkins.

If the Mets had a sense of imagination, they would have had Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard throwing all this time and had them pitch in the season finale, only if for an inning or two. Say good-bye for the summer with a real look at the future.

I know, I know, it never would have happened because it would have meant tinkering with the 40-man roster. That’s a rule that should be modified so a team can showcase it’s minor league talent for one game in September, but only if has been eliminated.

But, it would have been a way of giving their frustrated fan base a glimpse into spring training.

And, one more thing, since David Wright is back, I don’t want to hear anything about resting him for a day this weekend.

If you’ve hung around this summer and you’re buying a ticket for this weekend, you deserve a chance to see him play.

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

Sep 18

Is Tim Lincecum On Mets’ Radar?

What might the New York Mets be wondering as they look into the Giants’ dugout and see Tim Lincecum?

Could they be mulling over the idea of signing him as a free agent this winter? He’ll be pricey, but if the Mets are serious about contending in 2014, they’ll have to pay for pitching.

LINCECUM: Could he be on Mets' radar?

LINCECUM: Could he be on Mets’ radar?

With Matt Harvey opting for rehab over the next two months instead of immediate Tommy John surgery, the Mets have no certainties with their young ace. Surgery is still a possibility, and that would mean he would miss all of next year.

At the time Harvey went on the disabled list and surgery was anticipated, GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets would have to prepare to not have him next season.

Perhaps he didn’t want to reveal his true thoughts in front of Harvey in a press conference, or perhaps he didn’t want to come across as being desperate, but Alderson backed off that sentiment yesterday.

“I don’t think it’s going to affect our offseason planning as much as has been speculated,’’ Alderson said. “The one thing we have is a great deal of starting-pitching depth, some of it untested at the minor league level. But we have a lot of confidence in the quality and quantity of our starting pitching.

“So hopefully Matt is part of that rotation next year. But if he’s not, I don’t foresee us working hard to fill his spot from outside the organization.’’

What Alderson should have said is the Mets have “potential’’ starting-pitching depth.

Harvey, of course, is no given. Jenrry Mejia just underwent elbow surgery. Noah Syndergaard isn’t ready, and there’s nothing imminent with Rafael Montero.

By my count, the Mets will go into spring training with a rotation of Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee. Tonight’s starter, Aaron Harang, could be invited to spring training and so might Daisuke Matsuzaka. Are you comfortable with those last two options?

They will have to add somebody regardless of what Alderson said and Lincecum could be available. He’s in the final season of a two-year, $40.5-million contract, and the Giants haven’t said anything about bringing him back.

If not the Giants or Mets, somebody will offer Lincecum a contract, and considering what he made this year there won’t be much of a salary cut.

Lincecum was signed to the contract after the 2011 season, in which he went 13-14, but with a 2.74 ERA and having worked 217 innings. The feeling it was due to a lack of run support.

Lincecum was 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA in 2012 and a drop to 186 innings. He has thrown 184 so far this season while going 10-13 with a 4.40 ERA. Both this year and last there were reports his velocity is down. Even so, something had to be there to throw a no-hitter.

There’s some sentiment a change of scenery might benefit Lincecum, who is only 29. The flip side reported in San Francisco is the Giants might sign him for one year plus a team option.

Of course, the Mets might offer the same. They might have to.

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

Sep 17

Matt Harvey Opts For Rehab Over Surgery; Mets Must Prepare To Not Have Him

The New York Mets haven’t said anything on Matt Harvey not having to undergo surgery other than it is his decision. Multiple news agencies report Harvey will opt for rehabilitation over surgery after getting a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews Monday in Alabama.

The plan is to rehab for up to two months to see how his elbow responds. After that, he’ll have another MRI, and then possibly opt for surgery at that time.

HARVEY: Taking a gamble.

HARVEY: Taking a gamble.

Whether he has surgery now or in two months, Harvey won’t be available until 2015.

Surgery, of course, has no guarantees, but neither does rehab. If I were Harvey, I’d have the surgery and be done with the issue. But, I am not, and I understand it is his decision on his career.

If he has it now, there could be a possibility of him being ready next September. Wouldn’t it be great to have him activated and help them compete for a wild card?

The risk Harvey is taking is not feeling discomfort in November, and making a decision based on that information. He will not be throwing under game conditions. So, if he’s ready to start the season, that’s great, but the gamble is he’ll stay healthy the entire season.

What if he doesn’t? What if there’s more pain and he further tears his ulnar collateral ligament? If he re-injures the elbow and has surgery next summer he would miss the rest of the 2014 season and all of 2015.

That adds another year to when he won’t be pitching.

I understand Harvey’s competitive nature and desire to pitch. It is admirable. I don’t believe he’s being selfish, but I wonder if he’s seeing the entire picture about potential lost time. Although there are no givens in surgery, the odds have greatly improved for undergoing the Tommy John procedure.

Whatever route Harvey chooses in two months the Mets must make starting pitching their priority, even over an outfield bat. Currently, the Mets are looking at their 2014 rotation consisting of Dillon Gee, the staff leader in victories; Zack Wheeler, who’ll be on an innings limit; and Jon Niese, who had his own injuries this year.

Jenrry Mejia underwent surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow. Noah Syndergaard will not be ready to start next season and Rafael Montero is questionable. The Mets can’t count on Montero to make the team coming out of spring training.

So, that leaves two starters to find for next year. We can safely say Shaun Marcum won’t be an option.

For all the talk of adding a power hitting outfielder and the Mets’ other voids, any chance they have for a winning season is dependent on their pitching. It has been that way for 100 years, and nothing has changed.

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