May 25

Mets Opt To Keep Harvey In Rotation

As beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, the same can be said of a Matt Harvey start.

Harvey has been awful most of this season, so I would have sent him to the minor leagues for a couple of starts. However, Mets manager Terry Collins – after conferring with GM Sandy Alderson and pitching coach Dan Warthen – said enough was seen to let Harvey make his next start, Monday, against the Chicago White Sox at Citi Field.

HARVEY: Gets another chance.  (AP)

HARVEY: Gets another chance. (AP)

It isn’t the first time I disagree with a Collins decision and won’t be the last.

Harvey opened the game with three scoreless innings, but as has been the case with him this year, he lost it in the middle innings giving up five runs on three homers in the Mets’ 7-4 loss to the Nationals.

It could have been worse, but a diving play by Neil Walker in the second thwarted a potential big inning.

“You saw the game,” catcher Kevin Plawecki told reporters wanting to know what is wrong with Harvey.

“`Even though his command wasn’t good, we saw great movement on his fastball,” began Collins’ explanation of why Harvey is getting another chance. “His velocity was up. There was tightness in his slider. These are all things we haven’t seen in his last couple of starts.

“We have to quit looking at the negatives and start looking at some positives. We’re going to try to build on it and see what he’s like next Monday. … This guy is too big a piece to write-off.”

Although I would have done it differently, I do applaud Collins’ loyalty toward his player, even when it backfired on him before.

Collins wouldn’t speculate as to what might happen with Harvey if he bombs again; most likely more drama. Collins certainly won’t say this is his last chance before Vegas because that put added stress on him.

Collins ruled out the disabled list because there apparently is nothing wrong with him, although players have been stashed there before. Reportedly, the minor leagues and bullpen weren’t options, but pushing him back was discussed.

Former Mets pitcher turned SNY analyst Ron Darling disagreed, saying he didn’t see much to build on, saying his slider looked good only 30% on the time and it is no big deal for a pitcher to amp it up occasionally.

Darling also criticized Harvey for not speaking after the game, saying “he lost some street cred’’ in the clubhouse, because it forced his teammates – in particular, Plawecki – to clean up his mess.

“His teammates are thinking, `we’re not here to clean up your mess, you clean up your own mess.’

“Part of being a professional athlete is you have to answer the questions,’’ Darling said.

Collins didn’t comment on Harvey’s unprofessional silent act, but Nationals manager Dusty Baker noticed.

“`It’s his prerogative to do what he wants to do,” said Baker, probably recalling his time when Barry Bonds was on his team. “`If he [doesn’t want to talk], he doesn’t have to talk. But he’s making it harder on himself. New York will eat you up.”

The nibbling has begun.

Please follow me on Twitter

May 03

Mets Wrap: Harvey, Offense Flat In Loss

One conclusion we can take from the first 25 games of the season is presumed ace Matt Harvey doesn’t have it so far. Perhaps it will come for him eventually, but through six starts it is obvious the middle innings are a hurdle he hasn’t been able to scale. Part of the reason is his fastball is in the low 90s and another is he didn’t have a breaking ball in Tuesday night’s 3-0 loss to Atlanta.

It could have been worse for Harvey, who stranded four Braves in scoring position in the first three innings.

METS GAME WRAP

Braves 3, Mets 0

Game: #25 Record: 16-9  Streak: L 1

 SUMMARY: Matt Harvey didn’t have his breaking ball and once again lost control of the game in the sixth inning. He didn’t get any help from an offense that had only one hit off Braves starter Matt Wisler.

KEY MOMENT: You pretty much knew the game was over when the broadcast crew discussed comic strip dogs.

THUMBS UP: Yoenis Cespedes’ throw to third that didn’t nail A.J. Pierzynski was the only Mets’ moment worthy of a gasp. … Asdrubal Cabrera’s single in the fifth prevented the Mets from being no-hit.

THUMBS DOWN: Harvey, the offense, the weather. … The Braves stole three bases.

EXTRA INNINGS: Harvey is 2-3 lifetime against the Braves. … The Mets have been shutout twice this season.

QUOTEBOOK: “Did you read that at Yale?’’ – Keith Hernandez to Ron Darling after the latter compared the Braves’ Jeff Francoeur to the cartoon dog Marmaduke.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12: Homers given up by Mets’ pitchers, the fewest in the National League.

NEXT FOR METS: LHP Steven Matz hopes to give the Mets their sixth straight series victory Wednesday afternoon.

Apr 22

Mets List: Mets-Braves Magic Moments

Unlike the Yankees, who always had the Red Sox as a historical sparring partner, the Mets haven’t had what you’d consider a for-the-ages rival. In their infant years, they had the Dodgers and Giants for obvious reasons, then in 1969, they developed a brief rivalry with the Chicago Cubs. Later, it was the Pirates, then the Cardinals, and eventually the Braves.

I have always wanted to run a weekly Mets List feature and plan to do so on Friday.

NO STRANGER GAME

NO STRANGER GAME

With the Mets in Atlanta today for the start of a three-game series, I have come up with five of the most memorable Mets-Braves moments. If you have others, please share.

Post Sept. 11 homer: On Sept. 21, in the first professional sporting event in New York following the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the Braves were in town. Emotions ran high, but boiled over when Mike Piazza hit a go-ahead homer off Steve Karsay.

The Mets trailed by a run entering the eighth when Piazza delivered.

The 1969 NLCS: The Mets’ reward for overtaking the Cubs was to face the powerful Braves in the first year of divisional play.

The Braves were loaded with the likes of Hank Aaron, Rico Carty and Orlando Cepeda, but the Mets swept the series, winning 9-5 and 11-6 (at Atlanta) and 7-4 (at Shea Stadium).

Tom Seaver, Ron Taylor and Nolan Ryan were the winning pitchers. From there, the Mets continued to stun the sports universe by beating Baltimore in the World Series.

The Grand Slam single: The Mets trailed in the 1999 NLCS 3-to-1 in games and 3-2 entering the bottom of the 15th inning. The Mets tied it, 3-3, when Todd Pratt drew a bases-loaded walk.

Robin Ventura followed with what appeared to be a grand slam, but was only credited with a single when the Mets stormed the field to congratulate Ventura. In the process, Mets’ runners passed each other on the bases necessitating the call. VIDEO

The Mets would lose Game 6, 10-9, when Kenny Rogers issued a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth.

The Subway Series against the Yankees would have to wait another year.

Late night fireworks: On July 4 and 5, 1985, the Mets had one of those games. The Mets tied it, 8-8, in the top of the ninth on Lenny Dykstra’s RBI single off closer Bruce Sutter.

The teams slogged around for several innings before Howard Johnson’s two-run homer off Terry Forster in the 13th inning. However, Atlanta tied it, 10-10, on Terry Harper’s two-run homer off Tom Gorman. The Mets regained the lead in the 18th on Dykstra’s sacrifice fly off reliever Rick Camp, but the Braves tied it again on Camp’s homer off Gorman.

The Mets seemingly blew open the game with five runs off Camp in the 19th, but pesky Atlanta pulled within 16-13 off Ron Darling.

The game ended shortly before 4 a.m., but the Braves went ahead with their fireworks night. That prompted many calls to police claiming their neighborhood was under attack.

Double-header treat: In a night that might have symbolized the passing of the torch was near, Mets started prize pitching prospects Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler combined for a double-header sweep on June 18 in Atlanta.

Harvey, who would pitch in the All-Star Game that year but eventually wind up on the disabled list and need surgery, won the first game, 4-3. Wheeler, who grew up near Atlanta, won the second game. 6-1.

Rarely had the Mets won in Atlanta, but sweeping a double-header was unfathomable.

ON DECK: Matt Harvey Tinkers With Mechanics

Please follow me on Twitter.

Oct 08

Darling Misses Plate On Latest Harvey Mess

Normally, I enjoy Ron Darling’s insight on baseball and the Mets. I think he’s one of the best in the business. However, this time we deserved better from him when it came to weighing in on the latest Matt Harvey fiasco.

I thought Darling and his mates on SNY – Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez – let Harvey off easy during the innings limit drama by taking the path of least resistance and blaming agent Scott Boras. However, Boras wasn’t a factor in Harvey being late to Tuesday’s workout at Citi Field, but what do you know, Darling again passed on blasting the Mets’ diva ace.

DARLING:  Should have told us more.

DARLING: Should have told us more.

“It’s really hard for me to criticize [Harvey],’’ Darling told Newsday. “Half our team didn’t make the [1986 World Series] parade. … We had guys who barely showed up to games. … To me it’s not such a big thing because he’s not pitching for so many days.’’

But, it is a big deal. Harvey’s job required him to do one thing that day, and that was to show up to work on time. And, it wasn’t as if he had to be there at 9 and fight rush hour traffic. He had to be there at noon. He still could have slept in and been there on time.

In fairness, at the time Darling might not have heard several reports Harvey had been out partying, but does it really matter? Darling saw how partying destroyed the careers of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Cocaine was their drug of choice; for Harvey, it is alcohol. Harvey relished talking about his drinking and nightclubbing in a national magazine article. He boasted of wanting to be a womanizer like Derek Jeter.

If you’re the Mets, how do you not connect the dots between that and being late? How does Darling, educated at Yale and in the major leagues, not see that coming?

Especially when it came to the conflicting stories.

On Tuesday, manager Terry Collins said Harvey called to say he was stuck in traffic and turn around and go home. However, Harvey showed up anyway and took the questions. He admitted to screwing up and I wrote he was stand-up and was willing to let it go. However, Harvey didn’t get his story straight with Collins and said he lost track of time.

Huh? You tell us pitching for the Mets in the playoffs is important to you and you’re late? Did you forget your statement after the innings mess? I didn’t, and Darling should’ve remembered, also.

Harvey wrote in early September: “Right now we’re hunkered down in a fight to make the postseason. All of our efforts are focused on that task. As a team, we understand that there’s still a lot of baseball left to play. The chance to make a run in the playoffs will require our full dedication, energy and passion. This is an incredibly exciting time to be part of the Mets.’’

“All of our efforts.’’ “our full dedication.’’

Once there are conflicting stories there will be digging. And, it didn’t help Harvey’s cause any when David Wright expressed his controlled annoyance.

How could Darling overlook all that? He’s better than that, and as a New York athlete who saw first-hand the falls of Gooden and Strawberry, he had to know it wouldn’t end with a lame story or Collins’ weak jokes.

During his career, Hernandez hit whistling line drives, and did it again when he told the newspaper: “I’m astounded after all that’s gone that this happened. I’m flabbergasted about it. But, as my father used to say: `You make your bed, you’ve got to sleep in it.’ I just think at this particular point of the season it’s really, really not good.’’

That is, of course, unless Harvey has Darling to fluff up his pillows for him.

 

Sep 08

SNY Misses Boat On Harvey Coverage

Normally, I buy into most things SNY commentators Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez say about the Mets, but they missed the essence of the Matt Harvey fiasco when they both took the easy way out and ripped agent Scott Boras. It’s not that Boras doesn’t do some infuriating things, but in this case he was only doing his job, which is looking after Harvey.

SNY:  Keith and Ron miss boat on Harvey issue. (SNY)

SNY: Keith and Ron miss boat on Harvey issue. (SNY)

Blaming Boras is easy because he’s an outsider, but the real architects for this mess are Mets GM Sandy Alderson and Harvey. We know of the financial link between the Mets and SNY, but that never prevented Hernandez and Darling from being critical of the Mets’ performance on the field before.

I wrongly thought they would shed significant light on this issue, but they have not.

As former players, both are acutely aware of the athlete-agent relationship, and should have pointed out Boras works for Harvey and doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Boras doesn’t do anything without Harvey knowing about it, and however the story got out, Harvey knew it was coming. How could he not? Instead, Harvey acted like the innocent victim and let Alderson take the heat.

I’m not buying for a second Alderson was confused about how the innings limit included the postseason and wasn’t just for the regular season. Say what you want about Alderson, he’s not naive enough to make that mistake.

I’m also not buying Alderson’s lame excuse he wasn’t counting on the Mets being in the postseason. Huh? This year, 2015, was what they’ve pointed to since Harvey was injured. When you talk about contending, your goal is the postseason – and subsequently the World Series. So, you must calculate six postseason starts – two in each round – and include that in the 34 starts he would normally make during a season.

That would be 28 in the regular season and six in the playoffs. If you figure six innings a start – which is on the low side – that’s 204 for the year. As I suggested numerous times, the Mets needed to come up with, and announce so there is no misunderstanding, a concrete number. Hell, the Mets had the schedule since November so there was plenty of time to figure this out.

Of course, the primary reason Alderson didn’t do this was to avoid the inevitable conflict with Harvey about limiting his innings. It’s one thing to admire Harvey’s desire to pitch, but his judgment is in question, and that includes complaining about the six-man rotation.

So, this issue isn’t Boras’ doing, but that of Alderson not being forceful enough with Harvey to construct a plan, and for Harvey fighting any innings limits; for having his agent broach the inevitable issue; and not being stand-up about his responsibility in this mess.

Both Hernandez and Darling are smart enough to recognize this. Too bad they picked the most controversial issue of the season to lose their voices.