Apr 21

Harvey Should Get Another Start, Then What?

The Mets should know more about their options on what to do with Matt Harvey after Jason Vargas is re-examined later today. Barring no setbacks, Vargas will then pitch in a Minor League rehab start Monday.

HARVEY: What options does he have remaining.  (AP)

HARVEY: What options does he have remaining. (AP)

With Harvey’s next start scheduled for Tuesday in St. Louis it stands to reason he’ll make at least one more start before Mickey Callaway makes the most important decision since becoming the manager.

There will eventually be a messy divorce with Harvey, but it’s up to Callaway to determine when the papers are filed.

Since Harvey’s contractual status allows him to block a move to the minors, the only way for it to happen is for him to have a drastic change of heart. If he doesn’t, the Mets’ options are to invent a phantom injury so they can place him on the 10-day disabled list. They could also work him out of the bullpen, but he clearly won’t have his heart in it.

Finally, the Mets can attempt to trade him, but considering Harvey’s performance and injury history since the end of the 2015 season, his value is limited. Of course, in the end, they could simply release him, but things would have deteriorated beyond recognition if that occurred.

I gave up on the pipe dream of Harvey turning his career around and re-signing with the Mets in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. I’m a proponent of Harvey getting at least one more start because that is the only way the Mets can salvage anything from this fractured relationship.

No doubt, Harvey has spoken with his agent Scott Boras, whose advice should be is to do whatever the Mets want him to do. That’s the only way for Harvey to maximize whatever value he has remaining.

Feb 28

What Is Best Case Scenario For Mets And Harvey?

Matt Harvey gets the ball today against the Braves for the first time this spring with little expectations. The only hope I have is for him to leave the mound without any health questions.

HARVEY: Makes first start today. (AP)

HARVEY: Makes first start today. (AP)

After all, if he strikes out the side twice, what will it matter? And, if he gets rocked, that won’t matter, either. Just throw the damn ball and hope for the best.

For the first time since he’s been a Met there aren’t any questions about his health or whether he should be given a long-term contract.

Barring something unforeseen, I don’t see Harvey signing a long-term extension after this season. I don’t recall any time when Harvey said, “I want to stay with the Mets.’’

Injuries, poor performance and diva tendencies have marked – and marred – Harvey’s career and turned him from future, shining star to a Supernova for the first half of 2013.

The best-case scenario for Harvey is for him to pitch well and for some over-eager or desperate team will offer him a ridiculous contract. It does happen, but if Jake Arrieta remains unsigned how does that bode well for Harvey?

His agent, Scott Boras, has the reputation of holding out for the best deal. Perhaps if Harvey pitches well, Boras might switch gears and sign a one-year deal or accept a qualifying offer in hope of getting a better offer after the 2019 season.

That might be the Mets’ best hope of retaining Harvey. If that doesn’t happen, their best chance of getting something for him is for him to pitch well and deal him at the deadline.

But, if Harvey is healthy, pitching lights out and the Mets are a contender, they should keep him and go for the brass ring.

That’s the best case scenario for both parties.

Jul 14

Top Ten Mets’ Questions In Second Half

The Mets are home tonight for the start of a ten-game homestand that will determine the course of what is becoming a lost season.

While there’s little hope other than mathematics that they will be able to make a playoff push, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t significant questions that must be answered that could determine the direction of this franchise for years:

ALDERSON: Facing a lot of questions. (AP)

ALDERSON: Facing a lot of questions. (AP)

  1. Will they be buyers or sellers at the deadline?

A: The Mets can’t advertise that they are giving up on the year before their longest homestand of the season. Their two most valuable commodities are closer Addison Reed and outfielder Jay Bruce, both of whom will be free agents this winter. This would make them rentals to any team dealing with the Mets.

Other assets who would command less are Curtis Granderson, Jerry Blevins, Lucas Duda, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes.

2. Will we see Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith?

A: That was one of the prevailing first-half questions. GM Sandy Alderson insists they aren’t ready, when in reality he was just waiting out the market. Rosario would mean the end of Reyes and Cabrera – assuming they aren’t dealt – and Smith would likely determine Duda’s future.

3. Will Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey pitch again this season?

A: Harvey has already begun throwing and Syndergaard is two weeks from starting, but neither have a definitive timetable to return. Syndergaard has a partially torn lat muscle and the Mets want to know what they have moving forward. Syndergaard likewise wants to know where he is physically, which would dictate his offseason conditioning and throwing program. Hopefully, this winter he won’t hit the weights too much.

As for Harvey, it could very well be his real value to the Mets is as trade bait. I have written numerous times Harvey is just biding his time before he’s a free agent after the 2018 season. He hinted as much in 2015 when his agent Scott Boras brought up Harvey’s innings ceiling. The Mets can explore trading Harvey now or they can hope he comes back strong in the second half and the first half in 2018 before shopping him next year. Either way, his time with the Mets is numbered.

4. Will Yoenis Cespedes stay healthy and become the hitter the Mets are paying all that money to?

A: He’s strong, but muscle bound, which makes him susceptible to muscle pulls. Watching Cespedes run, whether on the bases or in the outfield, and you have to think it is a matter of time before he’s hobbling again.

5. Will manager Terry Collins finally give the Mets’ All-Star, Michael Conforto enough playing time?

A: Assuming Bruce and Granderson aren’t traded, then Collins must either bench the latter or devise a playing rotation for the four.

6. Will Collins do the same for Wilmer Flores and T.J. Rivera?

A: Neither Flores nor Rivera are the physical prototypes Alderson craves, but they produce despite not having a designated position. Both can play anywhere in the infield save shortstop.

7. Speaking of infielders, what will happen with Neil Walker?

A: It wasn’t a bad gamble to give Walker a $17.2 million qualifying offer. After all, it was for only one year and the Mets believed they were competitors. Walker wants a multi-year deal, which the Mets would be foolish to give him, especially with the money owed Cespedes and David Wright.

8. Will we see Wright?

A: The Mets don’t have a timetable for Wright’s return following his back surgery. Thinking positively, if Wright could come back and play well, it could make the Mets’ offseason plans a bit smoother. If he doesn’t come back, will he retire?

9. What is Collins’ future with the Mets?

A: The major league’s oldest manager is in his last year with the Mets. He could retire, but after this season, the Mets could decide not to bring him back. There remains the question of whether he would want to return.

10. What is Alderson’s future with the Mets?

A:  He’ll be 70 this winter and you have to wonder how much longer he wants to do this, especially if the Mets opt to rebuild. The young, vaunted pitching staff has not made one uninterrupted cycle through the rotation together and there’s no guarantee it ever will. There is a multitude of other issues with the Mets and maybe Alderson doesn’t want to go the building process again.

May 29

Harvey Not Vintage, But Good Enough

We’ve seen Matt Harvey better, but we’ll take the version we saw last night in Pittsburgh. Last night Harvey pitched with more poise than we’ve seen in a long time; he pitched out of trouble and survived through a season-high six innings in carrying the Mets over the Pirates.

Harvey threw in the mid-90s last night, not the 98 he carried as a punch-them-out weapon in 2013 when he terrorized National League batting orders. His command last night was better as he issued only two walks, and most importantly gave up a season-low one run.

HARVEY: Good enough. (AP)

HARVEY: Good enough. (AP)

The Mets will win most games if he gives up one run, and if that’s the Harvey we’ve been waiting for, it will be worth the wait.

“We’ve been talking about it: He doesn’t have to throw 97 [mph] to get people out,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters. “Tonight he showed that.”

Harvey has endured two season-ending surgeries since he became a cartoon superhero in 2013. Once defiant, Harvey was acceptant of what has happened.

“Obviously, it’s just taken a little bit of time,” said Harvey. “It’s been frustrating for me. But a lot of the work has been paying off, and really, it’s a huge, huge positive for me being able to execute those pitches tonight.”

At the end of the 2015 season, when Harvey’s innings became an issue when he spoke of his agent Scott Boras, he said he hired him to secure his future, which we all know is his 2018 walk year for a crosstown trip to the Bronx.

The Mets would take that right now because it would mean a Harvey that could be good enough to pitch them into an October or two.

Mar 30

Are Mets Rushing Wheeler?

Evidently, Mets GM Sandy Alderson didn’t learn much from Matt Harvey’s innings limit fiasco in 2015. That’s what I took from his comments Thursday with the news Zack Wheeler made the Opening Day roster and rotation.

WHEELER: Why the rush? (AP)

WHEELER: Why the rush? (AP)

I’m happy for Wheeler because it has been a long, two-year road following Tommy John surgery. However, I’m not sure he’s physically ready and it appears the Mets might be pushing him, and possibly for the wrong reasons.

Alderson suggested the decision to take Wheeler north was made in part as a psychological boost to him, but is that a good enough reason?

“From our standpoint, it’s been a long trek for Zack, and we felt if it was kind of an uptick physically, then emotionally and mentally it would be a real positive for him to begin the season and not just be relegated to Port St. Lucie again,” Alderson told reporters. “He’s feeling good and we feel real good about it.”

I’m glad Wheeler feels better – who wouldn’t be? – but is he strong enough? And, do the Mets have a definitive plan to keep him strong and healthy?

Maybe I missed it, but I couldn’t find anything after translating Alderson.

“Assuming things go well, [Wheeler] will pitch until he reaches a limit,” Alderson said. “We have a target, but targets move, so I think it will depend a lot on how he’s performing and how he’s feeling, try to build in a little bit of flexibility. I don’t think he’s going to pitch 200 innings.”

Of course not, but that’s Alderson being sarcastic.

The target initially was 110 innings. Then up to 120 to 125. But, if targets “move,” as Alderson said, then it isn’t really a limit, is it?

Weeding through Alderson’s words, one can’t find when he would be shut down, or if he will even sit at all. That is reminiscent of what happened with Harvey when his agent, Scott Boras, came forward with an innings limit to catch Alderson off guard.

Because they are blessed with depth in Seth Lugo and Rafael Montero, they have the luxury of being able to shut him down.

Wheeler’s in the rotation and will make his first start, April 7, against Miami. Figuring six innings a start, Wheeler would reach his limit after 20 starts, which puts him around mid-to-late July.

What could be a driving force to go with Wheeler is because Steven Matz has been shut down for at least three weeks with a sore left elbow. But, they are trying to fill the void of one injured pitcher with another questionable pitcher.

Where’s the logic in that, especially when they have the Lugo and Montero options?

“It’s been a long road,” Wheeler told reporters. “I know I’m starting probably because Steve got hurt, and that is unfortunate and I wish him a fast recovery. But I’m here and healthy and want to pitch, and that is what I’m about to be able to do.”

I hope this all works out for Wheeler and this doesn’t come back to bite him in the elbow, or Alderson in the butt.