Apr 24

It’s Up To Harvey If Bullpen Works

Dave Righetti did it. So did Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz. Now, can Matt Harvey make the transition from the rotation to the bullpen? Harvey’s initial response – that he’s pissed off – wasn’t a positive sign, but his subsequent comments are more encouraging.

HARVEY: It's up to him.. (AP)

HARVEY: It’s up to him.. (AP)

Harvey, who will be available coming out of the bullpen starting Tuesday, was not happy about the decision.

“It’s the decision that they made,’’ Harvey told reporters. “I have to suck it up and go out there and do everything I can to get things back in gear. I don’t have to agree with it, but I have to go out there and do the best I can to get things going and do everything I can to help this team get back to where I believe I can help this team, and that’s as a starter.’’

Whether he makes it back as a starter remains to be seen, and actually is irrelevant. If Harvey concentrates solely on being a reliever, long or short, it might enhance his value this offseason.

The way the market was last year, relievers were signed earliest and that hold true next winter, as well.

Harvey doesn’t throw as hard as he used to – he’s gone from 96.5 mph., in 2015 to 92.6 mph., this season, which is acceptable for the pen, as long as the pitcher has secondary pitches, which he does.

Former Mets GM Jim Duquette, currently a commentator for SNY, said it is common when a starter moves to the pen that his velocity will increase. And, Harvey has a good enough slider. By all accounts, Harvey has the physical tools and his problem is psychological.

If the Mets concentrate on starting Harvey at the beginning of an inning and limit him getting up and down, he should get the appropriate warm-up time.

Physically, Harvey can do this. If he has the proper attitude and meets with success, this could be the start of the second part of his career. Others have done it, such as Cleveland’s Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer [so Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland] have the experience in helping pitchers make the transition].

If Harvey stops thinking about starting and concentrates on being the best reliever possible, it could work. It’s up to him.

Apr 09

Shouldn’t The Mets Always Play This Way?

Ron Darling made a big deal about Noah Syndergaard backing up a play at third base tonight in the fifth inning. In fact, SNY has been gushing non-stop how fundamentally sound the 8-1 Mets have been so far this season.

From their hustle and aggressive baserunning, to their situational hitting, to manufacturing runs without the benefit of the home run, to their defense, to their bullpen. SNY has been gushing non-stop and newspaper columnists are doing the same.

Their points are valid, but also painfully obvious. How the Mets are playing is how they should be playing all the time. It begs the question: Why weren’t they doing this for the past ten years?

Is it just Mickey Callaway? Was Terry Collins that bad? Although my head still hurts from him saying, “we are a home run hitting team.’’

That, of course, stemmed from GM Sandy Alderson’s love affair with analytics. However, as much as Major League Baseball seems married to sabermetrics and launch angles, and seemingly has abandoned the game’s traditions, it really remains a simple sport relying on pitching, defense and timely hitting, one-two-three, with home runs a distant fourth as a matter of importance.

SYNDERGAARD STRUGGLES: Syndergaard threw 46 pitches through four innings, then threw 44 combined in the fifth and sixth innings. For all the talk about Syndergaard being an overpowering pitcher – and at times he can be – he’ll never all he can be until he lowers his pitch count and goes deeper into games.

The same applies to Steven Matz and Matt Harvey, and to a lesser extent, Jacob deGrom.

We’re only nine games into the season and the Mets have already had two days off and a rainout, so their bullpen has not been taxed despite the starters not working long innings.

However, eventually, the starters will have to do better than the six innings Syndergaard gave them in tonight’s 4-2 victory.

SNY TAKES SHOT AT JETER: SNY took a not-so-subtle jab at Miami figure-head owner Derek Jeter after the third inning when it ran a montage of departed Marlins stars Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna with a sentimental ballad in the background.

EXTRA INNINGS: Assuming nothing happens and Zack Wheeler starts Wednesday’s game at Miami, it will mark the first the Mets’ highly-touted rotation. … I realize Hansel Robles gave up a homer to Bryce Harper the other day, but overall, he’s pitched very well. I liked that Callaway went right back to him. … It might be time to give Yoenis Cespedes a day off.  He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, including with the bases loaded.

Jan 05

Mets’ Monitor McCutchen And Moustakes … More Dreaming

Two more names on the Mets’ fantasy shopping list that surfaced recently that won’t happen: Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen and Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas.

A CBS report had the Mets interested in McCutchen and an SNY report mentioned Moustakas. The Mets need to sign both, plus another starter, and maybe a quality reliever to reach .500 let alone contend for a wild card.

McCUTCHEN: Would be a rental. (AP)

McCUTCHEN: Would be a rental. (AP)

This isn’t the first time the Mets have been linked to McCutchen, and the obstacles to pulling off a deal have always been the same: the cost in prospects it would take to pull off a trade and the money to keep him.

Compounding matters is McCutchen is entering his walk year, so do the Mets really want to give up a lot for a rental?

At 31, McCutchen hit .279 with a .363 on-base percentage and 28 homers last season but is no longer an everyday center fielder. There was a time last year where he struggled to the point to where he was dropped from third to sixth in the batting order.

He’s not the star he once was, but still pretty good – and expensive.

McCutchen will be paid $14.75 million in 2018, which is manageable even for the Mets, but I’m not making that deal for a rental that won’t put them into the playoffs. The deal also shouldn’t be made unless the Mets negotiate an extension, which should conservatively be for three years for at least $17.5 million a season.

Moustakas is 29 and hit .272 with 38 homers in 2017 and reports have him seeking $85 million over five years, or $17 million a season.

The Mets can monitor McCutchen and Moustakas all they want, but if they won’t have more than $10 million to spend this year, it stands to reason they won’t have enough to bring in either.

Either player makes the Mets better, and isn’t that the idea?

 

Sep 02

The Importance Of The Mets Playing Today

It’s easy to sit back outside of Houston and say “the Mets and Astros shouldn’t have played today,’’ and you could be right.

But, you’d also be wrong.

HARVEY: Ripped in return. (AP)

HARVEY: Ripped in return. (AP)

Unless you’re from that community – the way we experienced September 11 and Sandy – you can’t comprehend the impact sports has on a region. It’s almost a cliché to say sports brings a sense of normalcy to a community.

SNY told the story of a man who took six kids to the first game – only one his own – to give his neighbors a chance to dig out from their homes destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. It’s been said sports act as a diversion, which Mets manager Terry Collins could relate to.

“If we can bring a distraction to what the town’s going through, certainly we’re up for it. We’ve been through it before obviously in our city,’’ Collins said “We know what the feeling is like. Tough atmosphere to play in when you’re a visitor.’’

The Mets not only lost both ends of today’s day-night double-header, but did so after volunteering throughout the Houston area during Friday’s off-day.

“We did what we thought was right,’’ said Travis d’Arnaud.

The Mets went where the Astros and Houston’s civic leaders thought they would help the most.

“We all wanted to help out however we could,’’ said outfielder Brandon Nimmo. “I know we only made a little dent in what could be done, but that’s the way that we felt like we could go in and just help out a little bit at a time.’’

One group helped unload a truck full of supplies. Others volunteered at shelters. Still, Astros manager A.J. Hinch said the Mets’ biggest contribution was to agree to move the series from Tampa to Houston, so the Astros players could reunite with their families.

“For that,’’ Hinch said, “I’m forever grateful.”

“It takes tragedies to bring people together, and that’s what’s going on here,” said Collins. “If this helps people’s spirits … then it’s the right thing to do. We’re willing to do anything to help. … You do what you’ve got to do. When they ask you to do this for the reasons they asked, you just do it. You don’t question it. You don’t complain about it. You just do it. … We just hope we can add something to help get these people through the next several months.”

HARVEY ROCKED: The best thing one could say about Matt Harvey’s return from the disabled list was he didn’t get hurt again.

Harvey threw 70 pitches – only 45 for strikes – in two innings in which he gave up seven runs on eight hits. Despite the numbers, felt optimistic.

“I’m fully confident that within the next start, or the start after that, whatever it is, that by the end of the season I’ll be comfortable on the mound and throwing to hitters,” Harvey said. “There’s not one doubt in my mind that with health, mechanics will come, and so will success. I’ve been there before. I’ve come back from Tommy John healthy and effectively, and there’s no doubt that by the end of the season I will do the same.”

FLORES INJURED: Wilmer Flores, who hit a grand slam in the Game 1 12-8 loss, left the Game 2 4-1 loss in the fourth inning after a foul batt struck him flush in the face.

Flores sustained a broken nose and will be out indefinitely.

CONFORTO TO HAVE SURGERY: The Mets confirmed outfielder Michael Conforto will undergo surgery on his left field, making it questionable he will be ready for the start of next season. The news puts the Mets in the market for an outfielder this winter, creating speculation the team might revisit bringing back Jay Bruce.

 

May 31

DeGrom Gassed, Loses It Early

Every pitcher has several each season, and tonight was Jacob deGrom’s turn for his stinker. Coming off two spectacular starts, two batters into the game and deGrom was down by two runs.

By the time his night was through, deGrom had been rocked for seven runs on eight hits and five walks with two homers over 105 pitches in four innings.

DE GROM: Not tonight Jake. (AP)

DE GROM: Not tonight Jake. (AP)

“He was all over the place,” manager Terry Collins. “That’s the biggest difference between the other day and today.”

DeGrom threw 118 pitches in his last start, and Collins said that might have gassed him last night. Even so, Collins expressed no regrets he might have overworked him over the weekend against the Pirates.

For all the talk about preserving the Mets’ young arms, one would have thought – at least Ron Darling did on the SNY telecast – Collins would have pulled deGrom midway through the fourth inning when the Milwaukee Brewers broke open the game and then rolled to a 7-1 victory.

Then again, whom would he use?

The Mets used their bullpen for over six innings Tuesday and used it for another five innings tonight. They’ll need Zack Wheeler to do some heavy lifting because it is doubtful they’ll have either Josh Smoker (three innings Tuesday) or Josh Edgin (three innings tonight).

DeGrom wanted to hear none of that: “This one is on me. I was just bad.”

TODAY’S ANSWER: It’s yes. Wilmer Flores started at third and singled with Jose Reyes getting the night off. Even after Asdrubal Cabrera’s costly error last night, there was no way Collins was going to sit him.

Collins said Flores would play again Thursday, but said nothing prior to the game about going to a rotation system where Flores would play a different position each night that would give everybody in the infield a game off each week.

EXTRA INNINGS: For the second straight game Mets’ pitchers walked eight Brewers. … Michael Conforto’s two-out RBI double prevented the shut out.

UP NEXT: Wheeler (3-2, 3.83) is coming off a no-decision in his last start, May 27, at Pittsburgh.