Mar 15

Harvey Will Be Back Sooner Than You Think

I was holding off on this post to see whether or not Mets pitching prospect Matt Harvey would survive the first official round of spring training cuts. He didn’t. But that’s okay, and for those of you that were hoping to see at least another start from this unbelievably talented pitcher, take solace in the fact that he’ll be back and it could be sooner than you think.

Harvey went out with a bang yesterday as he dazzled onlookers who gathered to catch a glimpse of the Mets phenom in action. J.P. Ricciardi, Sandy Alderson and even Jeff Wilpon were all on hand to see Harvey blaze through a team of Mets Minor League hitters while lighting up the radar gun with speeds of 95-96 MPH.

When all was said and done, the Mets 2010 First Rounder struck out eight batters over five scoreless innings of work, thus ending his first big league camp with a resounding performance.

“I wasn’t trying to throw it as hard as I can,” Harvey said. “I was just trying to hit spots and work on my stuff, and it felt pretty good.”

It’s not clear what lies ahead for Matt Harvey just yet, but I’d expect him to start the season at Double-A Binghamton, with a quick promotion to Triple-A Buffalo if he dominates in the first month of the season.

Once Harvey gets to Buffalo, all eyes will be fixed on how he handles the best the International League has to offer. Continued dominance will only hasten his arrival to Citi Field where he will ultimately make his Major League debut at some point this season.

Harvey has already made quite an impression on everyone who has been lucky enough to see him or brave enough to stand in against him in the batters box. Perhaps there’s no more fitting a way to end this post, but to recant what future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones had to say after meekly grounding out on Harvey’s improved two-seamer last Friday. “Where did you get this guy?” Jones said. “He’s throwing bowling balls up there.”

Ohhh man, you just gotta love this game sometimes. :-)

Nov 03

What will be the “Mets Way?”

Sandy Alderson’s first hire is former Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi as his special assistant, with presumably one of his responsibilities to help implement a “Mets Way,” throughout the organization, beginning with the lower levels of the minor league system.

Considering the dimensions of Citi Field, presumably an organizational philosophy will place an emphasis on pitching and defense first, followed by situational hitting, and down on the list power.

As the Giants proved, power is not essential to win, and the Mets have enough to get by with David Wright, Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran (presuming all are healthy, each has 30 homer potential) followed by Ike Davis.

It must begin with pitching, with the first step pounding the strikezone and getting ahead of the hitters. Hopefully, it will include instilling the mindset of working deep into games. When Mike Pelfrey was winning in June he worked fast, efficiently and kept the ball down. When he struggled in July he was the opposite and lost confidence.

The Mets have some talented arms below and I’d like the organization to keep them and not rush their progression. Let them develop a variety of pitches and not be reliant on just one pitch. The prime example is Mike Pelfrey, who gradually developed his secondary pitches, and Jenrry Mejia, who still has a way to go.

If the Mets are able to harness arms and pitch to contact, they should then let the defense take care of them. The Mets still gave away far too many outs, and this must be addressed in spring training. There were still instances of overthrowing the cutoff man and not knowing ahead of time of what to do with the ball.

Defensively, there must be more of a concentration on fundamentals, and this also pertains to the offense, where at times it was glaring as emphasized with the amount of strikeouts.

Offensively, way too many at-bats were given away because the hitter lacked patience and didn’t have a mastery of the strikezone. On-base percentage is a statistic that could be improved by nearly every hitter on the team, including Jose Reyes and Wright.

When the team was winning in June Reyes and Wright were on their games, which meant forcing the play and using the whole field. When they hit the skids in July, their situational hitting as a team was non existent.

Wright, Davis and Bay must reduce their strikeouts, which would automatically increase the on-base percentage and lead to more productive outs.

Power is baseball’s great eraser and always has been. The three-run homer can overcome a lot of things. However, being consistent fundamentally applies continuous pressure on the opposition and that’s the way to go.

I want players who’ll force the action, who know how to take the extra base, who’ll make the correct decisions and not take plays off. I want to see a hustle that was absent at times. We saw Angel Pagan have a horrific season fundamentally in 2009, but he greatly improved last year so it can be done.

I want pitchers who’ll throw strikes and not beat themselves with walks. I want pitchers who’ll go after hitters, and not lose concentration after an error, bad umpire’s call or poor pitch.

This must be emphasized on the major league level, with consequences when it is not. It must also be taught and drilled in the minor leagues.

It’s not an overnight process, but if strongly implemented we should see results the first year.

The Mets’ Way should be to play smart, aggressive, fundamental and relentless ball. It shouldn’t be a novelty when a player advances a runner, hits the cutoff man or doesn’t get lazy in the strikezone with a pitch when he falls behind in the count.

It should be an all time thing.

Let’s face it, the Mets don’t have a rotation like that in San Francisco. They don’t have the power or the ability to buy their way out of trouble like the Yankees.

The Mets have talent, but to win they must out hustle and out work their opposition.

Oct 07

Mets never had chance at Halladay

Watching Roy Halladay make history yesterday made me wonder if he could have made it for the Mets.

HALLADAY: Never would have been a Met

Reportedly, the Mets rejected a trade proposal from Toronto that would have had them sending Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, Ruben Tejada and Fernando Martinez to the Blue Jays.

It would be great to have Halladay, especially in light of Johan Santana’s injury, but it never was going to happen.

Why?

Because it wasn’t true, said then Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi.

It was absolutely wrong,” Ricciardi told USA Today. “We didn’t exchange names with the Mets. I felt so bad for [Mets GM] Omar [Minaya] because there was no truth to it. None. Now, he’s the one who has to answer why they didn’t get Halladay.’’

Trade talks never got to the name-exchanging stage for several reasons, beginning with Halladay having a no-trade clause in his contract with the Blue Jays and there was no hint of him wanting to come to New York.

Continue reading

Oct 05

The reconstruction of the Mets. Day 1.

It was a busy day at Citi Field this afternoon. Let’s get you caught up on the highlights:

* Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon confirmed GM Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel would return. “They both deserve a chance to redeem themselves,’’ Wilpon said. “They are very much on the hook now to work hard and correct the problems and flaws of the team. Injuries are not an excuse. We need to be better. … I wouldn’t say (win) or else, but we need to be at a championship caliber level. We need to be competing down to the end.’’

* Wilpon said the Mets would spend to improve. “We will have one of the highest payrolls in baseball as we have had the last number of years,’’ Wilpon said. “There are no handcuffs on Omar. He’s free to go and get this team to be a championship team.’’

* Wilpon said improving the pitching staff and adding a power bat were the off-season shopping priorities.

* Bench coach Sandy Alomar Sr. and first base coach Luis Alicea will not be retained. Third base coach Razor Shines will be re-assigned. Pitching coach Dan Warthen, hitting coach Howard Johnson and bullpen coach Randy Niemann will keep their roles. Alomar Sr. will be invited to remain in the organization in some capacity.

* Wally Backman was invited to interview for a minor league job. Reportedly, the Mets have been in contact with former San Diego GM Kevin Towers and former Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi.

* Wilpon said the medical staff would be retained but some of the “medical protocols’’ would be re-evaluated.

* Jose Reyes will have surgery on the right hamstring that kept him sidelined since May 20.