Aug 27

Loss Of Matt Harvey Leads To Purge; John Buck And Marlon Byrd First To Go

Not too long ago, I wrote the New York Mets should stand pat at the trade deadline to make a run at respectability, but with Matt Harvey gone for the year, that goal has been flushed. The gurgling sound you’re now hearing is the news the Mets sent John Buck and Marlon Byrd to Pittsburgh for infield prospect Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later.

The garage sale has begun and should not stop. With the Mets’ timetable for competiveness now 2015 instead of 2014, the Mets’ thinking should be to stockpile as many prospects and draft choices as possible, which means it shouldn’t end with Byrd and Buck.

BUCK: Gone.

BUCK: Gone.

Until the Aug. 31 deadline to make waiver deals, the Mets should be shopping Daniel Murphy, LaTroy Hawkins, Ike Davis and/or Lucas Duda, Scott Atchison and anybody else not fitting in their immediate plans.

Nobody will net a top prospect, such as what the Mets received for Carlos Beltran, but at this point it doesn’t matter. It’s garage sale time, so they should take what they can get.

Byrd was having a tremendous season, well enough for him to want – and warrant – a two-year deal, or one plus an option. Based on their history, the Mets would have offered one and he would walk without the team receiving compensation.

As for Buck, he evolved as Harvey’s personal catcher, but his playing time was reduced with the addition of Travis d’Arnaud. Buck played the good soldier, but realistically, he performed well enough to look for a full time job.

It won’t be with the Mets, and with Harvey likely done until 2015; Buck would not sit around. Catchers in a pennant race, especially those with a little pop in their bat, are valuable to a contender. The Pirates needed relief for Russell Martin, and it didn’t hurt Buck has a National League background.

Buck was terrific for the Mets, but they wouldn’t have gotten anything for him if he left after the season.

The Mets must now make a first base choice between Davis and Duda. It’s not likely they’ll tender Davis a contract, so get something now. That upside the Mets promised with Davis, well, we haven’t seen it.

Duda would be cheaper, so I’m inclined to believe they’d keep him over Davis. They can’t carry both, especially with Duda not playing the outfield.

Murphy is a reliable bat and could come off the bench as a pinch-hitter, and to an American League team, he has DH potential. And, does anybody believe they’ll bring back Hawkins?

Just a few weeks ago the Mets were thinking about .500 and second place. With Harvey and Wheeler, the future looked bright.

Not so much now.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 16

Mets Bullpen Has Surprised This Season

gonzalez germanAfter 3-4 consecutive seasons of bullpen failures and a couple of unsuccessful revamps and overhauls by Sandy Alderson in 2011 and 2012, it looks like the Mets have finally turned a corner and figured things out this season. In doing so they’ve also uncovered a few potential keepers for 2014 and beyond, some of them developed through our system and others who were key acquisitions straight from the scrap heap.

One such find has been Gonzalez Germen, who recorded the final six outs in last night’s 4-1 win against the San Diego Padres to notch his first major league save. It was a big moment for Germen who plans to give the game ball to his mother. Germen stepped in for LaTroy Hawkins who was unavailable due to a sore groin. Hawkins too, has been a key cog in this now very effective bullpen.

Since July 1, the Mets pen has a 2.10 ERA (30 earned runs/128.2 innings), ranking third in the majors. New York’s pen has a 1.83 ERA (seven earned runs/34.1 innings) this month, the sixth-best mark in the majors. The pen’s 3.64 overall ERA, ranks 15th in the majors after two straight seasons of ranking 29th in 2011 and 2012.

Even more telling is that Met relievers have stranded 141 of 189 inherited runners, the fifth-best percentage (74.6) in the majors. The Mets’ bullpen has been coming into games in critical spots and have done a great job of limiting the damage and stranding runners. It’s time to give Sandy Alderson his due for a job well done this season.

The Mets bullpen has endured losses to their close Bobby Parnell who was in the midst of the best season of his career, and also losing second-year reliever Josh Edgin was a significant blow as well. Since his return from the minors, Edgin led the bullpen in BAA and WHIP.

Some player performances of note are that of Scott Rice, who leads the team with 61 appearances and has surprised everyone while limiting opposing batters to a .224 average and posting a 3.34 ERA in his rookie season. The 32-year old late bloomer, has held lefthanded batters to a .162 average and has allowed just one home run all season in 45.1 innings pitched. Boom…

Scott Atchison was another scrapheap signing and all he’s managed to do is post a 3.34 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 31 appearances since joining the Mets.

As a reliever, perhaps the best performance of this season belongs to Carlos Torres whose 0.65 ERA is the best mark among all relievers in the game. His 0.87 WHIP ranks fifth in the NL and he has 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio.

So while not everything has gone perfectly for the Mets this season, there have been some very notable bright spots and certainly the bullpen has been one of them.

Aug 09

LaTroy Hawkins Better Closer Option Than Committee

Isn’t it always the way with the New York Mets? There’s positives brewing, but something always seems to get in the way, such as Bobby Parnell’s bulging disk.

HAWKINS: Best option for closer.

HAWKINS: Best option for closer.

Once pegged to lose 100 games, the Mets are talking about .500 and finishing in second place in the NL East, but gone is Parnell, probably for the year if surgery is required.

The Mets’ bullpen has been stellar since the beginning of July, but there’s only one real choice to replace Parnell and that would be 40-year-old LaTroy Hawkins instead of going with a bullpen-by-committee, which rarely works and usually ends up using guys outside of their customary roles.

Hawkins saved the last two games of the Colorado series, and has 90 saves in his career. Not great over 19 years, but it is the best the Mets have going for them right now.

Hawkins struggled early in the season, but has been consistently effective. He has experience pitching in tight games, and Terry Collins has more trust in him than in Scott Atchison or Scott Rice or Pedro Feliciano.

Even at 40, Hawkins was throwing in the mid-90s against the Rockies. He can still bring it when he has to, and averages 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings, and only 1.6 walks per nine innings.

Perhaps Hawkins will eventually run on fumes, but if the Mets are cognizant about not getting him up constantly, and perhaps occasionally let their set-up reliever work into the ninth if there’s a three-run lead, it could preserve him.

Collins’ bullpen has been exceptional over the past month, but now he must make a significant choice: Does he go the committee route or give his trust to Hawkins?

The thought of saving Zack Wheeler’s innings by using him in relief is not a good idea as the change in routine creates the possibility of injury. And, please, nobody mention Frank Francisco. Please.

Hawkins has pitched well and is deserving of closing until he can’t it anymore.

I don’t think there’s any doubt Hawkins has to be the closer until Parnell returns, which as of now looks to be next spring.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 04

Jeremy Hefner Pitching For Rotation Spot – Again

In which direction will the streak-prone Mets go? After winning four straight against the Yankees, they turned about face and were swept by the Miami Marlins.

They are in Washington for the start of a three-game series tonight, but these aren’t the same Nationals the national media gave a bye straight into the World Series.

Bryce Harper is on the disabled list and Stephen Strasburg might soon join him, and the struggling Nationals trail Atlanta by seven games. They are vulnerable to be taken and it would have been great to imagine the edge to this series had the Mets swept Miami instead. However, even without the Nationals’ two top players, they remain a formidable opponent in the NL East.

Tonight, Jeremy Hefner (1-5, 4.74) goes against Jordan Zimmerman (8-3, 2.37). Hefner has pitched better recently than his record would indicate, but overall, he’s 1-5 for a reason, and that is he’s vulnerable to the big inning. Hefner does not have the ability to shut down an inning quickly after trouble surfaces. One run quickly becomes two, then three and then it is call in the bullpen.

Hefner is pitching to keep his job in the rotation when Zack Wheeler is promoted in the next few weeks. Hefner is third in the pecking order behind Shaun Marcum (who’s making $4 million) and Dillon Gee (who has a greater window of consistency).

Hefner claims he’s beyond worrying about his spot in the rotation, saying, “I don’t worry about it anymore.’’

Even so, the scenario still exists, and if the Mets are bent on promoting Wheeler soon, somebody will be demoted, or their spot could be altered. For example, Hefner could work in long relief and Collin McHugh could be optioned.

Here’s the lineup the Mets hope will give Hefner a fighting chance:

Omar Quintanilla, SS

Daniel Murphy, 2B

David Wright, 3B

Lucas Duda, LF

John Buck, C

Ike Davis, 1B

Jordany Valdespin, RF

Rick Ankiel, CF

Jeremy Hefner, RHP

METS MATTERS: Wright trails San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval by over 120,000 votes at third base in the All-Star balloting. The only other Met listed is Buck, who is third behind Buster Posey and Yadier Molina. … Catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud will be in a protective walking boot for at least another week. … The prognosis of Dr. James Andrews is Scott Atchison does not need elbow surgery. … Congratulations to Kevin Burkhardt, who’ll call NFL games this year on FOX. … If you want to read an excellent piece on Wheeler, check out ESPN’s Adam Rubin’s story here.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

May 14

Mets Matters: Matt Harvey On SI Cover; Collin McHugh Brought Up

When you’re fading fast and it’s not even June, you celebrate the little things. For the Mets, that would be Matt Harvey on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated.

HARVEY: No jinxes please.

HARVEY: No jinxes please.

Harvey won his first four starts, but has no-decisions in his last four. He has a Major League-best 1.44 ERA and is scheduled to start Friday in Chicago against the Cubs.

ATCHISON TO DL: Reliever Scott Atchison was placed on the disabled list today with numbness in the fingers of his right hand. He experienced the same thing last season before he was diagnosed with a tear in an elbow ligament last year.

Last year, while with Boston, he rejected Tommy John surgery in favor of rest. Looks like a bad decision.

Replacing him will be Collin McHugh, who is 3-2 with a 2.74 ERA in eight starts for Triple-A Las Vegas. McHugh is also capable of spot starting or working in long relief.

McHugh made eight appearances (four starts) for the Mets last season, going 0-4 with a 7.59 ERA.

METS REACH LOW FOR FOX: The Mets signed Matt Fox from York of the independent Atlantic League with plans of working him out of the Vegas rotation.

How much of a reach is this?

The thirty-year old Fox last appeared in the majors in 2010 with Boston and Minnesota. Fox was 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in four starts for York.

TRAVIS d’ARNAUD UPDATE: Catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, who fractured his left foot a month ago, will be re-examined Friday in New York. He is hopeful of shedding his walking boot.

Initially, the Mets projected he’d be out at least two months and that still stands.

Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos