Feb 23

What Was Matz Thinking?

It’s not even March and Terry Collins has already given us our first head-scratching comment of the season. By this time, you’ve already seen the video of Steven Matz shark fishing, and unbelievably, reach over the side of the boat to touch the squirming animal.

This is beyond irresponsible and careless. Hell, it’s stupid. Why would he risk putting his career in jeopardy? A shark is a wild, out-of-control creature. It could have turned and taken off Matz’s hand. He could have slipped and fallen overboard. He could have impaled his hand on a hook.

So many things could have gone wrong, and Matz came away lucky.

Even crazier than Matz’s adventure on the high seas were the reactions of GM Sandy Alderson and Collins. Alderson said he didn’t have a problem, and Collins’ response to reporters was, “then it’s no problem,” when told Matz wasn’t bitten.

I’m hoping they underplayed it, but wouldn’t be surprised if they were not because their history is of not reacting to things they should.

Most standard Major League Baseball contracts have clauses banning activities that can be risky, such as scuba diving, basketball, drag racing, sky diving, skiing, and I would presume, fishing for sharks.

Feb 13

Syndergaard Is Unquestioned Ace

Manager Terry Collins will say it multiple times this spring, that the “Mets don’t have one ace they have four aces.’’ Noah Syndergaard said it this weekend, “I really wouldn’t say I’m the leader of the staff. I think we’re all leaders in our own way.”

Uh, no. Syndergaard is the guy. He’ll be the Mets’ Opening Day starter and he’s unquestionably their staff ace.

SYNDERGAARD: No doubt he's No. 1 (AP)

SYNDERGAARD: No doubt he’s No. 1 (AP)

For one reason, providing the bone spur in his elbow has calmed down, he’s the healthy one in the rotation. Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz are all coming off surgery, and Zack Wheeler hasn’t pitched in two years.

Secondly, Syndergaard’s 100 mph., heater registered 14 victories and 218 strikeouts, and as last season progressed and deGrom and Matz faded from the scene – Harvey dropped out early – it became apparent he had blossomed into a star.

“From the young pitcher that we acquired from Toronto to the successful major league New York icon that he’s become, it’s just a phenomenal metamorphosis,” GM Sandy Alderson told The New York Post.

Then, there was his ace-defining moment in the Wild Card Game against San Francisco’s ace Madison Bumgarner. Syndergaard took a no-hitter into the sixth and struck out ten Giants. The Mets ultimately lost 3-0.

Syndergaard reported to spring training having added 17 pounds of muscle for the intent of throwing harder.

“I always want to throw harder and make the game easier,” Syndergaard told reporters. “I felt my velocity jumped up last year from my rookie season. I ‘ll try to raise that bar. … Hopefully, it allows me to go deeper into games with more ease, but also focusing on and maintaining my flexibility.”

That’s an ace talking.

Feb 12

Mets Today: Spring Training Starts

Pitchers and catchers report to the Mets’ spring training facility in Port St. Lucie today and another season is underway.

It’s a drive-by reporting option. All they have to do is to make GM Sandy Alderson or manager Terry Collins aware they are in town.

Actually, many of them are already in camp and have been working out. So there aren’t any who have notified management they won’t report on time.

ON DECK

I would like to begin a “Today in Mets’ History” segment today. I have done this sporadically in the past and plan to have it up and running again.

Later today, I’ll also have a post on the four most pertinent issues the Mets must resolve in spring training.

THANKS TO ADAM RUBIN

One person who won’t be in Florida today is Adam Rubin, who left ESPN to take a job in public relations. I have tremendous respect for Rubin, who covered a beat better than any other reporter I ever met.

He is a tireless worker and I became a better reporter competing against him.

I’ll always remember his professionalism, driving across Florida to places like Kissimmee, Lakeland, and Fort Myers. When I moved to the Mets’ beat after covering the Yankees for eight seasons, he was the first person to call to welcome me to the beat. He introduced me to people and helped give me the lay of the land.

And, after I left the beat, he reached out to me and sent me a gift when he heard I was injured and hospitalized in 2014 to wish me well. And, when I resumed writing when I left the hospital after six months, he posted a link to my blog on a daily basis.

I’d like to thank Adam for his friendship and competition and wish him well in his new venture.

Jan 31

No Surprises, Noah To Get Opening Day Nod

Spring training will bring about a myriad of questions the Mets must answer prior to the start of the season. Who their Opening Day starter will be is not one of them. Normally, manager Terry Collins dances around the issue like it is a State Secret although there’s little doubt.

SYNDERGAARD: Will get OD nod. (FOX)

SYNDERGAARD: Will get OD nod. (FOX)

Not this year, as Collins told The New York Post, Noah Syndergaard will get the ball against the Braves, April 3, at Citi Field.

Syndergaard was 14-9 with a 2.60 ERA over 30 starts last season with a fastball averaging 98 mph. and a slider at 90.9 mph. And, he did it while pitching with a bone spur in his right elbow.

“He is one of our big character guys,” Collins told The Post. “He says, ‘Give me the ball,’ and he goes out and does the best he can. … He’s been fun to watch his development in such a short time.”

Syndergaard still needs to throw a complete season for the Mets, but came close last year with those 30 starts. Syndergaard also threw seven scoreless innings in the Mets’ wild-card loss to the Giants, but looked every bit the ace they believe he can be.

And, aces get the ball on Opening Day.

Jan 30

Very Curious About Matz

Of all the Mets’ young pitchers, the one I’m most curious in seeing this spring is Steven Matz. The seemingly perpetual injured left-hander made only 22 starts last season before going on the disabled list to undergo elbow surgery.

Drafted in 2009, Matz has only thrown 168 career innings, but he needs to throw at least 200 be considered an ace. He has a biting slider, but it puts excessive stress on his arm, and before he was lost he started throwing his curveball and change-up more.

He’s left-handed, which enhances his value, but he’s of little use if he can’t stay in the rotation. Matt Harvey has been lost twice to off-season surgery since 2013, but he’s as strong as a bull. Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom have also shown signs of being able to go long into games. But, Matz, much like Zack Wheeler, remains an unknown.

He’s the guy I expect to see manager Terry Collins attach an innings limit on before the others.