Oct 18

Dilemma In Rooting For Cubs

The Mets were a feel-good story when then finally reached the playoffs last season. The Cubs, because of their long Word Series drought, were also a feel good story. But, feel good is now past tense for the Cubs.

1024x768_wallpaper_08Frankly, I’m tired of having the Cubs jammed down my throat. They haven’t won since 1908, but they eventually will. Since 1945, their last World Series appearance, they’ve had several heart-wrenching near misses – including their collapse in 1969 – but mostly Chicago’s ownership insisted on selling the Wrigley Field experience over quality baseball.

Chicago’s current ownership has gone all out to produce a winner, which is something Mets’ ownership hasn’t always done. That’s to be applauded.

However, as with the Red Sox, I’m not a believer in curses. I’m just not a big supporter of their fan base that expects to win. There’s an undeserving sense of entitlement there that’s hard to understand. It’s almost cliché to root for the Cubs, just as it was to pull for Cleveland in last year’s NBA finals. The Cubs are the darlings of the networks, which is reason enough not to root for them.

Sooner or later the Cubs will get to – and even win – a World Series. When they do, I’m afraid Cubs’ fans will become like Red Sox fans. For years they wallowed in misery in Fenway Park; crushing defeat became a badge of honor. When the Red Sox finally won, their fan base became insufferable.

If the Cubs do win, what will their fan base identify themselves with?

What will make me feel empathy for the Cubs again is to do what the Red Sox did. Long personified as part of the curse, the Red Sox invited Bill Buckner back and all the angst seemed washed away. If the Cubs get to the World Series, Steve Bartman should be invited back to throw out the first pitch.

If he accepts and is booed, may the Cubs forever be cursed.

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Dec 02

Price Signing Could Forecast Mets’ Handling With Harvey

Not that it would have happened anyway, but Boston’s blockbuster signing of David Price Tuesday means there won’t be a trade of Matt Harvey to the Red Sox for shortstop Xander Bogaerts and outfielder Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley.

I was onboard for such a deal, and the Price signing only affirmed my reason.

The cost for Price is $217 million over seven years. The key to the deal is Price has an opt-out clause after three years for roughly $90 million. If Price can give the Red Sox a couple of playoff appearances, and perhaps a World Series title, the contract would have been worth it – if they allow him to leave.

The Yankees mistakenly chased after C.C. Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez when they exercised their clauses.

The Price contract makes you wonder what it will cost when Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steve Matz hit the market. The Mets certainly can’t afford to sign all five to mega deals at once, but they can defray some of the cost if they stagger the signings and they trade one or two of theses guys.

If you think $217 million is steep – and it is 2015 – wait until Scott Boras puts Harvey on the market in three years. Assuming Harvey pitches to expectations, Boras’ numbers for Harvey could approach $300 million.

Figuring the Mets don’t change their financial approach, there’s no way they can afford to keep Harvey and deGrom and Syndergaard.

Their best options are to fill their positional holes by dealing Harvey – who is a goner and we all know it – and offering long-term deals to deGrom and Syndergaard.

Yeah, I love the potential of the Mets’ young pitching and it would be great if they could keep the core together and fill out the rest of their roster with key free-agent signings. But, that’s not the real world. The real world has the very real, and very likely, chance of Harvey asking for a monster contact the Mets can’t afford.

I know you don’t like to hear this, but the Price signing screams trading Harvey is the thing to do.

ON DECK:  Tendering contracts deadline is today.



Aug 28

Second Part Of Harvey Gamble Plays Out Friday

Well, the Mets gave Matt Harvey his rest, 12 days to be exact, and it will be interesting to see how he responds tonight against Boston. Harvey missing a start was a two-part gamble. First, there was skipping him in favor of Logan Verrett. The second part is seeing how he would do on extended rest.

HARVEY: Plenty of rest tonight. (AP)

HARVEY: Plenty of rest tonight. (AP)

Harvey has been vocal about his preference working in a conventional five-man rotation where he works on four days rest. He was especially agitated when he lost to the Dodgers in Los Angeles, July 4, while working on eight days rest. On July 20, on nine days rest, he lost in Washington.

Harvey is 1-1 on seven days rest; 6-3 on six days rest; and 3-1 on five days rest. That’s seven losses for Harvey when not working on conventional rest.

When pitchers get too much rest they have a tendency to be overly strong and often overthrow and have a lack of command. You hear it all the time with sinkerball pitchers that they leave the ball up when too strong and need to be a little tired.

As bad as the Red Sox are, they can still hit and the Mets don’t need is for Harvey to be walking hitters in front of guys like David Ortiz.

Harvey has thrown 154 innings this season and including tonight is on schedule to make eight more starts on conventional rest. Assuming he goes seven innings in those games, that’s 56 more or 210 for the season. Using those numbers and how many innings they wanted for him, that leaves zero for the playoffs.

That obviously won’t work.

The Mets’ options are to skip him one or two more times; or severely limit his innings in September. But, with the Mets’ porous bullpen and need to win games – including six more with the Nationals – that’s not a good choice, either.

As the Mets calculate his potential innings for the playoffs, they must figure them through the World Series. They certainly aren’t going to calculate his playoff starts for just the first round. In doing that, the Mets must figure at least six more starts, which is two starts for every playoff round. Of course, they could figure sweeping each round, but this run already has a large dose of fantasy.

The Mets have done a decent job giving Harvey his rest, but not so much limiting his innings. Have I mentioned this before? It goes to not having a concrete program.

Apr 07

Today In Mets’ History: Gooden Makes Debut

On this date in 1984, 19-year-old Dwight Gooden made his major league debut and earned a 3-2 victory over Houston. Gooden gave up a run on three hits and two walks with five strikeouts. It was his first of 17 victories that year in giving Mets’ fans a glimpse of things to come.

In 31 starts that year, he went 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA and threw 218 innings with a league-leading 276 strikeouts and 1.073 WHIP.

GOODEN: Career started on this day. (AP)

GOODEN: Career started on this day. (AP)

Gooden exploded into greatness the following season when he went 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA in amassing 276.2 innings over 35 starts, of which 16 were complete games that included eight shutouts.

For the second straight season he lead the league in strikeouts with 268 strikeouts. He would never win 20 games again or lead the league in strikeouts.

Gooden went 17-6 in 1986, the year the Mets beat Boston in the World Series, but there were also signs of upcoming trouble. He didn’t make it past the fifth inning in either of his two starts against the Red Sox in the World Series, and then was a no-show for the victory parade.

Gooden was later arrested in December of that year in Tampa, Fla., for fighting with police. Soon after, reports surfaced of substance abuse and he tested positive for cocaine during spring training. Gooden entered a rehab center, April 1, and did not make his first start until June 5, and won 15 games that season.

Gooden had several more good seasons for the Mets, but never regained his dominance.

After two positive tests for cocaine, Gooden was suspended for the 1995 season.

Gooden’s 11-year Mets’ career ended with him going 157-85. He signed with the Yankees and threw a no-hitter in 1996. He also played for Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Houston and retired after the 2000 season.

Mar 16

Harvey Provides Lone Bright Spot For Mets

On the worst day of the spring for the Mets, Matt Harvey provided the lone bright spot with four scoreless innings in Monday’s 4-3 loss to Boston.

HARVEY: Posiitve start (Getty)

HARVEY: Posiitve start (Getty)

Harvey, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, gave up three hits and struck out three against the Red Sox, shortly after the Mets announced Zack Wheeler would undergo surgery.

Harvey threw consistently around 95 mph., and said he felt good with no discomfort.

“It’s a tough day for all of us,’’ Harvey told reporters. “The big thing was getting my work done and really focusing on that. If you want to call it picking the team up, I did my best to do that.

“I felt great to the last pitch. So we’re moving in a good direction.’’

Well, at least Harvey is.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s game and notes.