May 04

If Issue Is 2015 Innings, Harvey Deserves Responsibility

I couldn’t help but laugh after hearing Terry Collins last night talking about Matt Harvey’s problems.

Collins, who admitted the Mets don’t have a real answer as to Harvey’s mechanical issues, but threw out it could be “one of those years where it’s due to all of the innings last year, we’re going to see the effects of it.’’

HARVEY: Must accept responsibility. (ESPN).

HARVEY: Must accept responsibility. (ESPN).

Apparently, one of the effects is a loss of memory, at least by Collins.

If we can rewind a moment to the end of last spring training, I wrote how the Mets needed to come up with a definitive innings plan for Harvey and offered a couple of suggestions, none of which they adopted.

Instead, GM Sandy Alderson – echoed by Collins – a “fly by the seat of his pants,’’ approach. Their approach was to acquiesce to Harvey’s whims, from where to do his rehab and delaying when to have surgery.

I made a big deal about this at the time how important it was to have a concrete plan, which included limiting his innings in blowout games, skipping occasional starts, and definitely pulling him out of games in which he was hurting or ill.

Do you remember the start against the Yankees when he insisted on going after a complete game shutout when he had a huge lead?

And, don’t tell me you’ve forgotten the strep throat game when he wanted to pitch and Collins gave in when the smart thing would’ve have been to skip him.

Then, fast-forward to late August when agent Scott Boras leaked out the limit was 180 innings. Harvey first said he would follow his agent, then after the backlash against him he said wanted to pitch.

This made everybody connected with the Mets look bad.

Neither Alderson nor Collins had the backbone to stand up to Harvey, which ultimately brings us to the ninth inning of Game 5.

Harvey threw 216 innings last year – 36 more than Boras’ number. I estimated skipping one start a month would have saved Harvey at least that number, and even more if they pulled him early from blowout games.

So now, Collins is telling us Harvey threw too many innings in 2015. Well, whose fault is that? If Collins stood up to Harvey, this wouldn’t be an issue.

Now, we learn Harvey was ill before he pitched Tuesday night. Didn’t Collins learn anything from last year?

Obviously not.

 

Apr 28

Optimistic About Harvey

I am the first to admit I have had reservations about Matt Harvey and his future with the Mets.

I still believe they would be smart to explore the trade market because if healthy, he’ll bolt for the Bucks in the Bronx when he becomes a free-agent after the 2019 season. That is based on the innings fiasco and agent Scott Boras’ reputation. The driving force is money.

HARVEY: Still hopeful for him. (AP)

HARVEY: Still hopeful for him. (AP)

There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s the way of the baseball world.

I believe the Mets gambled wrongly with Harvey and their pitchers in spring training by limiting their innings. Their heart might have been in the right place, but the mistake they made was pitchers need work to get sharp.

Harvey was hammered in his first three starts; Jacob deGrom hurt his lat muscle in his first start; and Steven Matz was also hit hard in his first start. The exception was Noah Syndergaard, And, Bartolo Colon is, well, there are no words to describe him.

Harvey’s pitch counts have been high, but he was better in his last two starts – including last night’s game against the Reds – and his ability to work out of trouble was a positive sign. Since Harvey’s early troubles was a sign of rust more than injury, I don’t have any reason to think he still can’t have a big year.

Feb 25

Harvey: “I Want To Be Part Of The Mets.”

Speaking to ESPN today, Matt Harvey said what Mets’ fans have wanted to hear for a long time. Several issues were glossed over in the interview, but the essential nugget was Harvey saying he wants to stay with the Mets. He didn’t say anything about home-team discounts or what it would take, but just saying that is cause for hope.

HARVEY: Walking away after World Series collapse. (AP)

HARVEY: Walking away after World Series collapse. (AP)

Harvey addressed the innings controversy ignited by agent Scott Boras by very diplomatically, saying, “as a young player, you want to play this game for a long time. I want to be part of the Mets and help this organization get to where we want to be.”

As for Boras, last year Harvey defiantly supported him by saying he hired the fire-balling agent to maximize his career, so naturally, speculation was – which I admit was voiced here – he’d take the last dollar and bolt for his childhood team, the Yankees. Harvey said the main issue Boras focused on was, “is helping this team getting as far as we can and not only getting there for one year but getting there multiple times.”

For that to happen, serious precautions needed to be taken to protect his arm, which generated a conflict between Harvey and his agent, his doctor and Mets GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins.

“As a young guy you want to have a long career,” Harvey said. “ A doctor is telling you one thing, but as a competitor you want to be out there.”

When Boras leaked the innings story, Harvey, who was coming off Tommy John surgery, was to be shut down at 180 innings. Instead, and not without some tension, he threw 216. Unfortunately for him and the Mets, he didn’t reach 217, which would have been the ninth inning of Game 5.

Of course, as we all remember, manager Collins went against his better judgment and acquiesced to Harvey’s demand to remain in the game. He expended a lot of energy arguing with Collins and sprinting to the mound to start the ninth. Perhaps that’s when he ran of juice.

After reflecting on that night, Harvey admitting “some heartbreak and some sadness” and said: “Nobody wants to lose. Nobody is trying to lose. It’s one of those things. Once you sit back and realize what we did and what we’re capable of for years to come, and with who we have, and getting [Yoenis] Cespedes back, and getting a healthy David Wright, followed by the starting staff we have. It was a great experience for us. Something we can learn from, but not dwell on, but really pick up from where we left off and finish what we started.”

It’s spring training, a time for new beginnings, and with that comes the hope Harvey really wants to stay here and possibly the Mets can keep the band together.

Would be nice.

 

Feb 15

If Harvey Is Up For Deal, Mets Should Talk

Until today, the most definitive theory about the Mets signing Matt Harvey to a long-term contract extension was the prevailing belief his agent Scott Boras would play the market and hold out for the last dollar. We concluded this based in large part by what Harvey said last year during his innings fiasco when he said he hired Boras to take care of his career.

HARVEY: Willing to talk long-term. (Getty)

HARVEY: Willing to talk long-term. (Getty)

Harvey said today what we already knew, that the Mets hadn’t opened negotiations and don’t even have a timetable of doing so.

Harvey, who is under Mets’ control until after the 2018 season and will make $4.325 million this season, today said he’s not ruling out anything. He said he was open for discussion, but don’t forget spring training hasn’t started yet and Boras is still in the equation.

“I think whatever comes up is going to come up,” Harvey told reporters today in Port St. Luice. “I’ve never shied away from it. I’ve never said I wouldn’t consider it. But I haven’t heard anything considering that.”

Jacob deGrom has been more open about his willingness to sign a long-term extension, which is why I recently wrote he should be the Mets’ first choice, followed by Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz before Harvey. The reason for Harvey being down on the list was the presumption Harvey wasn’t interested because of Boras.

Zack Wheeler will be a free agent after 2019 season, with deGrom eligible after 2020, followed by Syndergaard and Matz after 2021.

Harvey will be arbitration eligible for the next two years, so his salary will continue to spike assuming he remains healthy and pitches to expectations. The 26-year-old Harvey was 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA in 29 starts, and despite the innings issue he logged 216 innings, which included the playoffs.

Traditionally, pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery – Harvey had his in 2013 and missed all of 2014 – and with no innings limits projected for this season, there’s reason for optimism. Assuming the Mets can sign Harvey to a three-year deal, that would cover two arbitration years and his first season of free-agent eligibility.

There’s risk, of course, but if he stays healthy and produces it is a win-win for the Mets. Considering there’s the rest of the rotation to consider and several high-salaried Mets could be off the books over the next few years, this could be the time to act.

Dec 02

Price Signing Could Forecast Mets’ Handling With Harvey

Not that it would have happened anyway, but Boston’s blockbuster signing of David Price Tuesday means there won’t be a trade of Matt Harvey to the Red Sox for shortstop Xander Bogaerts and outfielder Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley.

I was onboard for such a deal, and the Price signing only affirmed my reason.

The cost for Price is $217 million over seven years. The key to the deal is Price has an opt-out clause after three years for roughly $90 million. If Price can give the Red Sox a couple of playoff appearances, and perhaps a World Series title, the contract would have been worth it – if they allow him to leave.

The Yankees mistakenly chased after C.C. Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez when they exercised their clauses.

The Price contract makes you wonder what it will cost when Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steve Matz hit the market. The Mets certainly can’t afford to sign all five to mega deals at once, but they can defray some of the cost if they stagger the signings and they trade one or two of theses guys.

If you think $217 million is steep – and it is 2015 – wait until Scott Boras puts Harvey on the market in three years. Assuming Harvey pitches to expectations, Boras’ numbers for Harvey could approach $300 million.

Figuring the Mets don’t change their financial approach, there’s no way they can afford to keep Harvey and deGrom and Syndergaard.

Their best options are to fill their positional holes by dealing Harvey – who is a goner and we all know it – and offering long-term deals to deGrom and Syndergaard.

Yeah, I love the potential of the Mets’ young pitching and it would be great if they could keep the core together and fill out the rest of their roster with key free-agent signings. But, that’s not the real world. The real world has the very real, and very likely, chance of Harvey asking for a monster contact the Mets can’t afford.

I know you don’t like to hear this, but the Price signing screams trading Harvey is the thing to do.

ON DECK:  Tendering contracts deadline is today.