Apr 08

DeGrom A Most Intriguing Met

Of all the Mets’ young pitchers, I am most intrigued with Jacob deGrom, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year and Wednesday’s starter at Washington. Quiet and unassuming, unlike Matt Harvey, deGrom came out of the bullpen last season following an injury to Dillon Gee and never left the rotation.

Hopefully, he’ll stay in it for years.

Why deGrom over the others?

DeGROM: Captures the imagination.  (Getty)

DeGROM: Captures the imagination. (Getty)

Well, Harvey is Harvey, and despite his hype, all too often he leaves the impression he’s more interested in becoming a New York media darling instead of a Mets’ star. There’s a big difference.  Also, I can’t shake the feeling he’s just passing through Queens until he relocates to the Bronx.

Fair? Maybe not, but that’s the perception.

I get the feeling if deGrom stays healthy he’ll have a longer career with the Mets than Harvey.

The same applies with Zack Wheeler, but for a different reason.

Wheeler’s elbow injury went from bad to worse, and it won’t be until late in the 2017 season until we might really know something about him. By then, it is hoped he would have developed command to go with his natural stuff. So far, that lack of command lead to high pitch counts that stressed his arm.

But, for right now the main intrigue is his health.

As for Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, yeah, there’s interest. However, the intrigue meeter won’t click on until Sandy Alderson forgets this Super Two nonsense and brings them up here. Until then, they are wishful thinking.

But deGrom?

Well, he’s here and now. He seems real; he’s not a diva. We saw what he did last year coming out of nowhere, and it whet our appetite for more. He went 9-6 despite an offense that provided little support and a shaky bullpen. What was eye-popping was a 2.69 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 140.1 innings. That’s dominating stuff. And it continued in spring training as he showed no signs of letting up with a 2.08 ERA, .167 opponent batting average and 0.73 WHIP in 26 innings.

What I also like is he’s not a know-it-all. He exudes confidence without being abrasive, and also a willingness to learn evidenced by working hard on his breaking pitches during spring training. He also took copious mental notes watching Bartolo Colon on Opening Day.

“I watched what Bartolo did,” deGrom told reporters in Washington. “He just located and kept the ball down and threw the ball really well. That’s always my game plan, to throw strikes and keep it down.”

As with Harvey, the Mets will carefully monitor deGrom’s innings early in the season.

“I’ll just go out there and go as long as they’ll let me go,” he said.

And, that might be good enough.

ON DECK:  More on the lineup.

Mar 31

Quit Screwing Around With Idea Of Trading Gee

You have to wonder what Dillon Gee was thinking yesterday during Mets owner Fred Wilpon’s closed-doors meeting.

How could he possibly get swayed away in any emotional thoughts when there are reports of the Mets still wanting to trade him? How could he possibly feel a part for what they are building if they are always trying to show him the door?

GEE: Keep him. (Getty)

GEE: Keep him. (Getty)

Gee won’t make waves; he doesn’t have that type of personality. He said all the right things Monday on SNY, saying he’s only concentrating on getting ready for the season regardless of his role.

Gee, despite limited experience in that capacity, was supposed to open the season in the bullpen prior to Zack Wheeler’s season-ending elbow injury. At the time, manager Terry Collins said he would replace Wheeler.

Then all of sudden enter Rafael Montero, and Collins began backtracking. You have to wonder, considering the talk about the manager’s relationship with the general manager, if Sandy Alderson didn’t have a finger in all this.

Just wondering.

Now, we’re hearing again about Gee being shopped. Such talk won’t dissipate in the wake of Montero throwing six scoreless innings Monday. (Never mind Gee threw seven scoreless Sunday).

Gee has a 40-34 record with a 3.91 ERA in 106 appearances with the Mets. He’s shown an ability to pitch with composure and eat innings in big games. Conversely, the 24-year-old Montero has a big upside, but we don’t know what he’ll do if given the ball every fifth game.

For that, matter we don’t know what Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz could do.

Sure, they are banking on their young pitching and there’s nothing wrong with that optimism. However, they can’t operate under the assumption any of those three will immediately give the Mets what Gee has proven to give.

If Alderson is the genius he’s been portrayed to be, he should know a team could never have enough pitching. In Alderson’s tenure with the Mets, he’s lost Matt Harvey, Johan Santana, Wheeler, Gee (last year) and Jon Niese at various times. Isn’t that enough of a clue?

Alderson is telling us the Mets will be competitive this year. Yet, he’s willing to go with an unproven as a fifth starter this year, and this despite also knowing they won’t have Bartolo Colon next season and Wheeler until at least June.

So, what’s this about trading Gee? Unless they are blown away – and they won’t be – it would be incredibly stupid to trade him.

And, we don’t need any more stupid things.

ON DECK:  Mets Today: What’s happening today.

Feb 06

Assessing The Real Value Of Harvey

This is the year the Mets pointed to with the return of Matt Harvey to their rotation. With Harvey, they hope, they could be a legitimate wild-card contender. Despite their holes, with Harvey the Mets have a good chance of winning every fifth day. He makes them a representative team, one worth watching, one that gives cause for optimism.

HARVEY: Has more than mound value. (Getty)

HARVEY: Has more than mound value. (Getty)

The Mets regard Harvey, who has 12 career victories in 36 starts in parts of two seasons, as their pitching rock, but he’s much more.

If Harvey turns out to become all he’s cracked up to be, and the Mets answer their other questions – including the continued development of Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom – their rebuilding program could turn out to be the real thing and not Sandy Alderson’s wishful thinking.

However, Harvey’s value to the Mets transcends the numbers he posts on the mound. He’s not only the future, but gives them flexibility and other assurances.

A healthy and productive Harvey could give the Mets confidence he’s worthy of a long-term deal, which translates into financial certainty. That’s invaluable to a franchise having economic problems.

In addition, if Harvey is sound it could give the Mets the freedom to deal one of their other pitchers to address other needs. A healthy Harvey also takes away the urgency to rush Noah Syndergaard to the majors.

However, it isn’t hard to imagine the Mets’ position if the reverse is true. There could be the urgency to force Syndergaard to Flushing or overspend next year in the free-agent market.

Yes, the Mets are counting on a lot of things this season from Harvey, most importantly, to be the future they envision.

Jan 29

Why I Am Pulling For Flores

I don’t know Wilmer Flores well, but pulling for him to have a breakout season. And, I wanted this before Sandy Alderson foolishly cracked wise on him last weekend.

There are several reasons why, beginning with my penchant for rooting for the underdog. All those signings and trades people have advocated the Mets should make probably have made him uncomfortable, despite his well-grounded response to the rumors.

FLORES: Hope he does well.

FLORES: Hope he does well.

“You hear people talking all the time: ‘Is this guy going to be a shortstop? Can he play shortstop? Can he not?’ ’’ Flores told Newsday. “You know what? I can’t listen to that. I want to play the way I’ve been playing. … I’m not going to say I don’t hear things. But I try not to because I know what I can do, man. Honestly, I know what I can do.’’

That’s a great approach for somebody entering a season the first time as the frontrunner.

Playing Major League Baseball is hard enough without your boss dissing you. And, Alderson isn’t the only one. The Internet is loaded with comments endorsing just about anybody over Flores.

I like Flores because he works hard to succeed despite the criticism. He wants to do well and how can you not like that?

There’s criticism he can’t hit on the Major League level, but seriously, how do we know because he’s never been given a chance?

There’s also criticism his defense is suspect, but often over-looked is the aspect of positioning and pitchers working to hitters in such a way where the ball will be hit toward Flores.

Over the past few years Flores wasn’t given a real chance by the Mets. It appears that has changed, and for one, I hope he does well.

 

Jan 12

Mets Right For Balking On Syndergaard-Desmond Trade

Word is the Mets had a shot at Washington shortstop Ian Desmond, but balked at the trade because it would have cost them Noah Syndergaard.

SYNDERGAARD: Just a start. (MLB.com)

SYNDERGAARD: Don’t deal him. (MLB.com)

Good move on their part. Eventually, the Mets might trade Syndergaard, but now isn’t the time.

Before trading Syndergaard for Desmond, or anybody else for that matter, the Mets must ask themselves this question: Would they be better off?

Desmond does not put the Mets over the top. I’m not saying Wilmer Flores does either, but he deserves the chance to show what he can do with a legitimate opportunity, something he has not been given.

There’s another reason to hold onto Syndergaard, and that’s the current make-up of the rotation. Bartolo Colon is gone after this season. Matt Harvey is coming back from surgery and we don’t know about his status until he gets back on the mound. Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom are still in their developmental stages and are largely unproven, despite a high potential upside.

The potential for Syndergaard is also high and I want to see what he really is. If Syndergaard pitches to he projections, he has far more value than Desmond, or Ben Zobrist for that matter.

Sandy Alderson gets ripped here, and elsewhere, for moves he doesn’t make. This isn’t one of them.