May 05

No Empathy For Harvey

Mickey Callaway was generous when he said, “we failed Matt Harvey.’’ In actuality, Harvey failed himself, with help from the Mets. Sometimes, when a pitcher loses his fastball, or a slugger’s bat slows down, the end can be delayed by his track record, or his popularity in the clubhouse, or the goodwill garnered within the organization.

It’s why the Mets were patient with Johan Santana and David Wright. Harvey accrued none of that goodwill. None.

Because of their histories, you root for some players. You have empathy and compassion for them.

Maybe only Harvey’s family and agent have empathy for him. I can’t imagine anybody pleased Harvey’s career was derailed by injuries, including two season-ending surgeries.

However, it is the way Harvey carried himself and alienated his teammates, how he made himself bigger than the team, how he made everything about him, that has him alone and without any emotional support in his darkest professional hour.

Perhaps that, more than his injuries, is what makes this a modern-day Greek Tragedy. It’s difficult to show compassion for somebody who showed little for anybody else.

Harvey’s selfishness was never more transparent than it was when he bullied former manager Terry Collins into giving him the ninth inning in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. I don’t know how any of Harvey’s teammates that night can condone Harvey’s actions that night.

What happened the night he traveled two hours from San Diego to Los Angeles for a restaurant opening the night before a game, was not advisable although not technically wrong. However, Harvey’s penchant for enjoying the nightlife has already run him afoul with the Mets’ front office and teammates.

Why – other than selfishness – would Harvey chase fates? That GM Sandy Alderson sounded resigned Harvey would do such a thing spoke volumes. Alderson didn’t have to say he was fed up with Harvey. It was implied.

Harvey wasn’t worth the energy to get angry about any longer.

In previous years the Mets bent over backward to placate Harvey, and a case could be made they enabled his boorish behavior by not standing up to him.

It took a while, but it is about time.

May 04

Mets Banish Harvey From Gotham

In the end, Matt Harvey’s Mets’ career ended in the way in which he lived it, with stubbornness and selfishness. The Mets’ long, tumultuous nightmare with Harvey ended today when the hard-partying, formerly hard-throwing right-hander was told he would be designated for assignment because he refused to help himself by taking a Minor League assignment.

The Mets didn’t want Harvey to go to Las Vegas as punishment for partying last weekend in Los Angeles on the team’s first night in San Diego, but in the hope he could rediscover his mechanics that one time produced 98 mph., fastballs and had him destined for superstardom.

HARVEY: In the beginning. (MLB)

HARVEY: In the beginning. (MLB)

The Mets will designate Harvey for assignment prior to tomorrow’s game, which will give them a week to either trade him, which won’t happen, release him or place him on irrevocable waivers.

With teams knowing they can just sign Harvey after he’s released rather than give up talent, it will be a miracle if there’s a trade. The Mets are destined to eat the remainder of his $5.6 million contract.

“This was a long time coming,” GM Sandy Alderson said. “This is something we’ve tried to address, we’ve struggled with, we’ve wrestled with over two managerial regimes. The move to the bullpen was dramatic in itself. So I think that at this point, pragmatism, realism far outweighed other considerations.”

Harvey, who twice refused to speak to reporters when the Mets were on the West Coast, left Citi Field without a word and a 34-37 record with a 3.66 ERA over six seasons.

Manager Mickey Callaway, whose reputation of helping pitchers rediscover themselves was in part why he was hired, accepted responsibility, ironically which was something Harvey rarely did.

“We feel like we failed Matt Harvey,” said Callaway. “Our job is to help every player in there. It’s not a good feeling when you can’t.”

Harvey’s career began as the seventh overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. Two years later, he debuted in 2012. The following season Harvey blossomed into part star/part comic book character after he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated calling him “The Dark Knight of Gotham’’ after the Batman movie.

Nobody knew it at the time, but the moniker would hurt Harvey as he seemed more interested in being a New York hero instead of a New York star. Ironically, Harvey’s downfall started before his career highlight, which was starting the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field.

Harvey initially withheld tightness in his right forearm after a start prior to the All-Star Game. The Mets didn’t do Harvey any favors when rather than pull him from the game they let him start.

It didn’t take long before it all started to unravel for Harvey, who was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament. Rather than immediately opt for Tommy John surgery, which several doctors recommended, Harvey chose to rehab the elbow, which was his right, but a bad decision as it set him back several months.

After spring training in 2014, Harvey fought with the Mets as to where he would rehab. The Mets wanted him to train in Port St. Lucie, but Harvey insisted on staying in New York where he could date models, go to the Rangers games, and party.

Harvey was quoted in a magazine article about how much he wanted to squire women like Derek Jeter and boasted of his drinking like a college sophomore.

Harvey returned in 2015, but not without controversy. The Mets began the season saying they would monitor Harvey’s innings, but there didn’t seem to be a concrete plan and former manager Terry Collins handled it poorly by letting him start with a strep throat and work into the late innings when the Mets were routing the Yankees.

Rather the closely monitor Harvey’s innings, they became an issue when his agent, Scott Boras, raised the possibility he might not pitch in the postseason. This painted Harvey in a bad light until the agent backed down.

Harvey did pitch in the postseason, but skipped a workout prior to the NL Division Series because he was hung over from a night of drinking. Harvey’s signature moment came when he pitched a hissy fit in the dugout and talked Collins into let him go out for the ninth inning of Game 5.

The next year Harvey developed thoracic outlet syndrome. He also missed time in 2017 with shoulder weakness, but also drew a three-game suspension for blowing off a game because he was sleeping off another party fest.

Harvey continued to struggle this season, then cursed at reporters who questioned him about going to the bullpen. Then was his night of partying in Los Angeles, the plans were made while the team was playing a game in St. Louis.

“I like Matt, in spite of all the stuff that’s gone on, certainly because of a lot of the stuff that’s gone on,” Alderson said. “He’s a human being. He’s a vulnerable human being, and kind of leaves himself open for those of us who know him and whom he semi-trusts. I’m going to miss him in a lot of ways.”

And, probably won’t miss him in a lot of other ways.

 

May 03

Callaway Tries To Stay Positive Despite Blowout Loss

Now is when Mickey Callaway will earn his money and show the Mets what kind of manager they hired. It won’t tell all, but it will tell a lot.

After the Mets were torched 11-0 by Atlanta today, the second time they’ve been shutout in as many games. The Mets were swept by the Braves today and were outscored 21-2 in the process. The Mets are no longer in first place, so Callaway can’t say, “we’re still in good shape.’’ He can’t because the Mets are no longer in good shape.

Things just aren’t clicking and the Mets have lost eight of their last 12 games. They aren’t hitting; nobody is hitting. Today, Jason Vargas and Matt Harvey have struggled, with the latter’s relief ERA up over 10. The bullpen hasn’t been good lately, and today Amed Rosario didn’t run out a popup.

From the pitching end, Jacob deGrom is nursing a sore elbow; Harvey was rocked for five runs today; and, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz have not pitched well and the latter is hurting,

“I don’t think our guys aren’t giving up or aren’t playing hard,’’ Callaway said. “They just aren’t playing well. It’s part of a long season. They need to take care and keep their routine. They still are playing the game the right way.’’

The biggest things to take out of today’s game is that Callaway remained positive and didn’t rip his team publicly. After only 29 games (they are 17-12) it would do little good to go ballistic this early in the season.

As far as Harvey goes, well, it’s pretty clear if Callaway won’t give the ball to him if deGrom can’t go Monday. It’s also clear Callaway is studying Harvey, and today gave more of an analysis then Terry Collins ever did.

“The first few outs were good, then he tried yanking the ball,’’ Callaway said. “He’s really stiff right now. The way his body is working he was really not throwing through the catcher. He’s got a way to go. The life wasn’t there. He lost his feel for the zone.’’

Callaway hasn’t given up on Harvey so Harvey can’t give up on himself. It’s too long a season and the once-streaking Mets are only 1.5 games behind Atlanta.

May 01

Harvey’s Partying Again An Issue

Long-time readers of this site know I’ve frequently been hard on Matt Harvey, and with good reason. For the most part, he’s deserved it. He’s in the bullpen because he’s been stinking up the joint lately as a starter, and if the Mickey Callaway Mets are about accountability, Harvey needs to ask himself: Am I doing all I can to get better?

Frankly, he’s not.

HARVEY: Being a jerk again.  (AP)

                HARVEY: Being a jerk again. (AP)

Harvey has always been for himself first, second and to hell with everybody else.

Harvey’s common sense, not to mention, professional obligations, are under scrutiny again after he traveled to Los Angeles from San Diego last week for a night of partying prior to a lackluster relief appearance.

The Mets traveled from St. Louis to San Diego the day he went to Los Angeles. Obviously, he was preoccupied with finding a way once the Mets landed in San Diego to get a way to Los Angeles. That means he wasn’t concentraing on the game.

Sandy Alderson stopped short of calling it a problem, but reading between the lines it isn’t hard to figure out the general manager isn’t pleased to hear of the so-so pitcher’s nocturnal habits.

After all, this is a player who blew off a game because he was hungover. He was also late to a postseason workout for the same reason.

“I think it can be a problem if it affects a player’s or a pitcher’s preparation for work the following day or the next several days and I am not sure that was the case here,” Alderson told reporters at Citi Field this afternoon. “[But] I think the other thing I have tried to keep in mind is pitching out of the bullpen is different than pitching out of the rotation and part of the preparation for that role is recognizing you can pitch any day at any time and as a result you have to be a little more conscientious about what else is going on in your life in order to be prepared on a moment’s notice to pitch.

“That is part of the realization that maybe’s he’s had over the last few days. So to answer the question as succinctly as I can, ‘Yeah, it can be a problem.’ I don’t think it was in this case.”

Asked if he was surprised to hear of the report about Harvey’s partying, Alderson said: “Usually I get upset if a report is unexpected. So I guess the short answer is no.”

Translation: Alderson knew something like this could be coming about Harvey.

Harvey, who is making $5.8 million n his walk year, clearly isn’t enamored with the Mets, who have bent over backward to placate him.

Callaway met with Harvey today and gave him the same old message he had gotten from Alderson and former manager Terry Collins.

“It is bad in the sense that it’s getting publicity,” Callaway said. “Matt has to be aware of that. The things he does, right or wrong, are going to be brought to the forefront and we have to make sure it’s never a distraction for him or the team.

“… I think he understands at this point that while the bullpen, he might view it as a relegation in some way, that his only way back to the rotation is through the bullpen and being successful in a meaningful role in the pen.’’

The bottom line is Harvey has in the past, and is currently, alienating his teammates. This latest episode is just another reason not to give Harvey the benefit of doubt anymore.

It’s his career, and if he doesn’t care about it anymore, then why should we?

Frankly, the sooner he’s gone the better, and if that means giving him away for a bag of balls at the trade deadline, then go for it.

Apr 22

Harvey “Pissed Off” At Bullpen Demotion. Suck It Up, Big Boy

Matt Harvey said he’s “pissed off” at losing his spot in the rotation and having to go to the bullpen. Well, guess what, I’m sure many of Harvey’s teammates and coaches, not to mention his former manager Terry Collins, and countless Mets’ fans, are pissed off from having to Harvey’s selfishness and wasted talents over the past few years.

I understand injuries, but enough is enough. Harvey has been demoted from the rotation – honestly, I didn’t think manager Mickey Callaway would to it. But, even in bumping him from the rotation the Mets made it a point to say this was not punishment, but a temporary move.

“I want to make it clear: This is less about making Matt a reliever and more about getting him back to being a productive starter,” assistant general manager John Ricco said. “Honestly, one of the reasons we brought in Mickey and [pitching coach] Dave Eiland were for their knowledge and expertise in this area. We have a lot of faith and confidence in what they’re able to do.”

Harvey was full of praise for Callaway when he was first hired, but now when the first-year manager makes a move against him, he’s full of the same old “me first’’ attitude that has highlighted his 34-37, injury-marred, controversial career.

Sure, Harvey can’t be happy with how his career has unraveled, but it’s up to him to suck it up, not talk about being pissed off at the Mets and his situation.

Why was this even a big deal? If he was a real team guy, when this started boiling over he should have gone to Callaway and said, “I suck. What do you want me to do?’’

Of course, him saying he has to “do whatever I have to do to get back in the starting rotation,’’ just illustrates how little interest he has in helping the Mets.

Typical Harvey and I’m counting the days until he’s gone.