Jun 12

Mets Need The Real DeGrom

Even when the Mets had a healthy Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey on staff, Jacob deGrom was still the best they had to offer. Nothing seemed to rattle him; he had no prima donna instincts; he had the best combination of velocity and command.

DE GROM: Needs to find himself. (AP)

DE GROM: Needs to find himself. (AP)

DeGrom said he’s healthy which is what makes his sluggish start so puzzling.

The 4-3 record isn’t such a big deal because it can be written off as a lack of run support or a leaky bullpen. However, the 15 runs he’s allowed in his last two starts and 4.75 ERA are particularly head scratching.

We’re used to seeing deGrom give up 15 runs in a month – maybe five starts – not eight innings in his last two. That’s not deGrom.

“It’s frustrating, but I’ve been able to go out and pitch that way, and you have to make an adjustment,” deGrom said after his last start against the Rangers. “You have what you have that day and I’ve done a poor job of that my last two starts, not being able to get outs without having my best stuff, which in the past I was able to do.”

DeGrom said he’s been able to pinpoint the problem but can’t get a handle on the solution. It’s akin to having an itch in the middle of your back and not being able to scratch.

In detailing his problems against the Rangers in his last start, deGrom said: “If you look at my misses, they were either to a righty down and away or up-and-in,” deGrom told reporters last week in Texas. “I’m either yanking the ball or it’s sailing on me, so that tells me it’s rotational.

“This game is not easy. These are big league hitters and when you make mistakes over the middle of the plate, that kind of thing happens, which obviously I have done over my last two starts.”

DeGrom said he’s flying open too soon with his front shoulder while striding to the plate. This is about timing, about muscle memory, and about the placement of his lead arm and shoulder as he begins his stride toward the plate.

Is this related to his elbow surgery? DeGrom says no; he says he’s not ailing.

DeGrom has always been honest and not condescending, unlike Harvey and Syndergaard have been in the past.

 

May 07

The Drama Never Ends With Harvey

For once, the Mets acted quickly when it came to Matt Harvey, suspending their one-time wonder pitcher who is going from future star to supernova. The Mets suspended Harvey for three days today without pay for violating club rules. Left-hander Adam Wilk was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas to replace Harvey and after flying all night was shelled for six runs in the Mets 7-0, one-hit, loss to the Marlins.

HARVEY: He's hiding something. (ESPN)

HARVEY: He’s hiding something. (ESPN)

Not surprisingly, neither GM Sandy Alderson nor manager Terry Collins specified why Harvey was suspended, leading us to wonder on social media. Alderson read a short announcement and did not take questions, leaving Collins alone to address the latest Mets-Harvey soap opera.

“We’ll keep it in-house, the way it’s supposed to be,” Collins said.

Except it won’t stay in-house. It never does.

The Mets obviously knew they would suspend Harvey, Saturday afternoon, but delayed in doing so to give Wilk time to fly in from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Undoubtedly, they had to wait to make the announcement less than three hours before game time in case Wilk didn’t make it on time.

The Mets waited for Harvey to come to Citi Field before telling him he was suspended and sent him home. Of course, he did not address the media.

The club did say the offending incident had nothing to do with an adult sex toy placed in Kevin Plawecki’s locker for the world to see while T.J. Rivera was being interviewed. Multiple reports had Harvey not being at the ballpark Saturday, saying he played golf and came off the course with a migraine headache and there was a miscommunication with the Mets, who disputed that account which further clouds the story.

If it were accurate it would alleviate the drama that always swirls around Harvey. The Mets mislead us before, so it would not be a surprise if it happens again. If the headache story were true, even if there was a screw up in getting the message to the Mets, there likely wouldn’t be a suspension. If the Mets bought into it, even if not true, this story would die down quickly after Harvey apologized.

The bottom line: Do you honestly believe Harvey doesn’t have the cell phone numbers of Alderson, Collins and trainer Ray Ramirez? Even if they didn’t pick up, they would have gotten the message. Even if Harvey was ill, he should have shown up, gotten looked at by the trainers, and be sent home.

Since the Mets are playing hide-and-seek with the truth, let me seek. My guess is instead of working on his pre-game routine prior to a start – shagging flies, looking at film, light throwing, or whatever – he took off for Ottawa, Canada, to watch the Rangers. That’s not a report. It is conjecture because the Mets aren’t giving us the truth.

“There are things that go on that you deal with every day that makes the job difficult, but you know it comes with the territory,” Collins said. “This is one of those. … In order to control things, you’ve sometimes got to make tough decisions.”

With Syndergaard out, Zack Wheeler trying to come back, Rafael Montero on his way out of the rotation, and Robert Gsellman erratic, would the Mets really give up a chance to go for a sweep of the Marlins over a headache?

I’m guessing no.

The greatest ability is dependability and Harvey’s teammates can’t rely on him. That the Mets said their decision was based on a compilation of things with Harvey is indicative of his repeated irresponsibility.

“We’re disappointed,” said Jose Reyes. “We are counting on him.”

“Whatever the reason happens to be, he’s not on the field,” said Curtis Granderson. “There’s a lot of guys that are on the field at this moment in time. We’ll just have to keep moving forward.”

Alderson tried desperately to trade Jay Bruce this winter, and ironically he is rapidly becoming a team spokesman.

“I don’t know if I’d use the word `frustrating,’ ” Bruce said. “There are team policies and when those aren’t followed, action has to be taken. I don’t know any of the details. I just know that Matt’s not here [Saturday].”

However, this won’t end with a simple apology to his teammates, because Harvey’s camp said a grievance would be filed with the Players Association against the Mets.

Yes, that will smooth things over.

Aug 07

What If The Mets Signed Alex Rodriguez In 2000?

Alex Rodriguez’s career has less than a week remaining following today’s announcement he will stop playing Friday to become an adviser/instructor for the team with whom he fought, embarrassed and will pay him $27 million to walk away.

Whatever you think of Rodriguez – he’s a polarizing figure both ways – I will always attach two words to his career: “What if?”

RODRIGUEZ: What if? (AP)

RODRIGUEZ: What if? (AP)

What if he didn’t use PEDs? What if he never left Seattle? What if he went to Boston instead of the Yankees? What if he wasn’t such a distraction off the field? What if he didn’t break down physically at the end?

Regarding the Mets, I wonder “what if Rodriguez signed with them instead of Texas after the 2000 World Series?”

It was the winter of that year and the Mets were among a handful of teams interested in signing Rodriguez. Some had him as the front-runner. The Mets’ GM at the time, Steve Phillips, cited several factors in backing away, including reportedly a refusal to meet Rodriguez’s non-salaried demands of a private plane and luxury box; an office with four employees in Shea Stadium; and a billboard presence.

Phillips made a point of saying he wasn’t going to turn the Mets into a “24-plus-one-roster” and destroy the chemistry of the team. Then, of course, there was his salary. The Mets were willing to go over $120 million, which is what Cleveland’s Manny Ramirez signed for with Boston that year.

However, the Rangers’ ten-year, $252-million contract was beyond comprehension.

What if the Mets were willing to give Rodriguez what he wanted? What if?

The Mets were coming off a World Series appearance and obviously a good team. Adding Rodriguez to a lineup that already included Mike Piazza could have devastated the National League, and it wouldn’t have been hard to envision another World Series. Maybe two. Maybe more.

If that was the case, might Bobby Valentine survived, and in doing so, the Mets avoided the parade of Art Howe, Willie Randolph, Jerry Manuel and now Terry Collins?

Would we have ever seen the Sandy Alderson era?

With Piazza and Rodriguez hitting back-to-back, how many more homers could each have hit having the other for protection?

In 2000, the Mets were nine years away from moving into Citi Field. If they signed Rodriguez, would that have delayed or sped up the plans for Citi Field, which hit the drawing board in December of 2001?

On the field, what would Rodriguez have prevented or enabled the Mets to do?

For one thing, signing Rodriguez would have delayed bringing up Jose Reyes, unless they were intent on playing him at second base. They certainly would have had no use for Kaz Matsui with Rodriguez at shortstop.

Then again, if the Mets’ thinking at the time were to move Reyes to third, would that have delayed the arrival of David Wright?

The Mets went back to the playoffs in 2006, but how far might they have gone with an infield – from third to first – of Wright, Rodriguez, Reyes and Carlos Delgado?

With Rodriguez, would the Mets have been in position to go after Delgado and Carlos Beltran? As pricey as Rodriguez’s contract was, if his presence put the Mets in the playoffs several times, how would this have impacted the Wilpon’s financial situation?

Reyes, Rodriguez, Wright, Delgado and Beltran would have comprised a formidable offense, and if they still added Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine, then Johan Santana, could the Mets have been a dynasty in the 2000s?

There are no guarantees in sports, but it’s fun to speculate how different things might have been. Mets’ history and overall baseball history would surely have changed had Rodriguez ended up in Shea Stadium during the winter of 2000.

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Aug 01

Bruce To Mets Heating Up

The Mets got into the Jay Bruce talks rather late, but multiple reports have emerged as them being a front-runner to add the left-handed hitting corner outfielder from Cincinnati. Going to the Reds would be prospects, possibly including outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who had quickly become a Citi Field favorite, or infield prospect Dilson Herrera.

Bruce is in the final months of a six-year, $51-million contract that includes a club option of $13 million ($1 million buyout for 2017). He’s currently making $12.5 million this year.

I like Bruce, and liked him last year when the Mets offered Zack Wheeler for him before landing Yoenis Cespedes. However, if the Mets’ intention is to use him solely as a rental, I would pass and keep Nimmo or Herrera.

I think the playoffs are slipping away and they need more than Bruce to push them in.

Also talking with Cincinnati are the Giants and Rangers. The Dodgers were in it earlier, but those talks stalled.

Aug 01

Mets Still Talking …

As the trade deadline rapidly approaches, the Mets remain in “buy mode” and as of this morning were still talking with Cincinnati about left-handed hitting corner outfielder Jay Bruce and Milwaukee about catcher Jonathan Lucroy.

Both players have manageable contracts, no-trade clauses that don’t include the Mets and would help their listless offense. They might not help in the way Yoenis Cespedes did last season, but would improve what we’ve been seeing for the better part of three months.

BRUCE: Still hope. (AP)

     BRUCE: Still hope. (AP)

As as far as Lucroy is concerned, those talks might have fizzled by now. The last offer on the table for Lucroy was catcher Travis d’Arnaud and either minor league infielder Dilson Herrera or outfielder Brandon Nimmo (but not both).

However, the Brewers backed off when they appeared to trade Lucroy to Cleveland. Only after Lucroy turned down the trade, were talks revisited. At that time the Brewers might have asked for both Nimmo and Herrera, but that hasn’t been confirmed.

If the Brewers trade Lucroy, it most likely appears it will be to Texas.

As for Bruce, the Mets talked with Cincinnati about him last season before landing Cespedes (they were willing to give up Zack Wheeler). The Mets face competition for Bruce from the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. Detroit and the Rangers have also engaged the Reds.

Interestingly, both Bruce and Lucroy could be free-agents this winter if the teams they are with do not pick up their club options for 2017. Of course, by that time the playoffs would have come and gone.

With nothing imminent in terms of obtaining a bat, the Mets are still interested in adding bullpen depth and have been linked to Joe Smith (a former Met now with the Angels) and Jim Johnson (Braves).

Whomever the Mets land, the top priority seems to be a player who is not under contract for next season, which kind of says it all.