Jun 06

Mets Bag Six-Man Rotation; Gee’s Trade Value Drops

Although the Mets did what I suggested and scrapped the six-man rotation, how this scenario unraveled depicts an organization without a compass. What began coming out of spring training with a short bench and an abandoned batting order, continued today with manager Terry Collins announcing the six-man rotation that was supposed to carry the Mets into August is something to be thought of in the past tense.

GEE: Sent to the pen. (Getty)

GEE: Sent to the pen. (Getty)

Of course, this being the Mets, Collins suggested you never what could happen in the future. Well, not exactly. We do know that no matter the issue, the Mets will continue to waffle.

Collins said he changed his mind after he and pitching coach Dan Warthen discussed the rotation and noticed there would be several times when pitchers would sometimes go on seven days rest. Just asking, but wouldn’t this have been something they would have mapped out before making the decision in the first place?

However, I am more inclined to believe this was the result of some pitchers – Matt Harvey, take a bow – moaning about their work schedules. It is unlikely it would be rookie Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. I doubt it was Bartolo Colon, who probably would benefit the most from the extra rest. I also doubt Gee went to the manager because he has no leverage. I also doubt it was Jon Niese, because he’s pitched so poorly lately that he also doesn’t have any pull. When you’re losing you shut the hell up.

I believe it was Harvey who screamed loudest because he has a history of confronting management. I also believe Collins went through this with Warthen beforehand and was falling on the sword to protect Harvey.

Don’t be surprised if that theory eventually surfaces soon.

There was nobody else but Gee to go to the pen. Obviously, it wouldn’t be Harvey, deGrom or Syndergaard. Niese is the only left-hander, plus he has a history of arm injuries, and you wouldn’t risk him in the up-and-down routine of a reliever. And, Colon isn’t one to work out of the pen.

When this began, I wrote one of the benefits of the six-man would be in showcasing Gee for a possible trade at the deadline, but that’s now a moot point.

Within the past year the Mets waffled on who would play shortstop; who would comprise the bullpen, and who would be closer; who would be the leadoff hitter; what would be the batting order; how many bench players and relievers the team would carry; and now, the composition of the starting rotation.

Frankly, it makes Collins look bad, but it’s not really him, is it? Doesn’t this all fall at the feet of GM Sandy Alderson? How can it not?

Jun 05

Six-Man Rotation Or Bench; Mets Must Decide Quickly

Part of me wants to see the Mets make a run at using a six-man rotation, but with Daniel Murphy going on the disabled list, the bench already perilously thin and the offense sputtering, the prudent option might be to bring up infielder Matt Reynolds and use the conventional five starters.

MURPHY: Injury makes tight situation even tighter (AP)

MURPHY: Injury makes tight situation even tighter (AP)

The Mets are currently in first place in the NL East, but how long will it be before Washington gets hot again? This team is not in position to swing a trade for a bat, so GM Sandy Alderson has to give Reynolds a shot and hope Jon Niese finds himself in the rotation.

As for Dillon Gee, I’d rather have a bat.

Murphy was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday after an MRI exam showed tightness in his left quadriceps and Danny Muno was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas to take his spot on the roster. Wilfredo Tovar is with the team in Arizona, awaiting the Mets to make a decision on Eric Campbell or a reliever.

Reynolds had a strong spring training, but is currently slumping at Triple-A Las Vegas, so even if they promote him there’s no guarantee he will provide the spark the Mets need. As for making a trade for a bat, let’s face it, neither Niese nor Gee will bring back much and the Mets don’t want to part with Noah Syndergaard and aren’t ready to bring up Steven Matz and dump Niese.

Thanks to an 11-game winning streak in April, the Mets got away with using a short bench. It is doubtful they can be so lucky a second time.

May 28

Mets’ Six-Man Rotation Proof They Didn’t Get It Right With Harvey Initially

While some are giving the Mets kudos for the inventiveness of going to a six-man rotation, they are doing so to protect Matt Harvey and his surgically-repaired money elbow. More to the point, they are doing it because they didn’t properly calculate a program to monitor his innings in the first pace.

The Mets entered the season with a “play it by ear” approach with Harvey, but it didn’t take long to second-guess several decisions by manager Terry Collins, and yes, to take some jabs at the young star.

HARVEY: The fly in the six-man ointment. (AP)

HARVEY: The fly in the six-man ointment. (AP)

First, they let him pitch with a strep throat, when Collins should have told Harvey to stay home. However, Harvey wanted to pitch that day – of course, he did – and left the impression he wasn’t going to take “no” for an answer, which is to paraphrase Collins.

Starting him was bad enough. Letting him pitch into the seventh that day compounded matters.

When they had a chance to rest Harvey, the Mets spit the bit. Soon it would bite them in the butt.

Entering the season, part of the Mets’ “play it by ear,” plan was to take advantage of one-sided games to give Harvey a few innings off. But, when they could have pulled him after seven in a blowout win over the Yankees, he pushed the envelope because he wanted the complete game.

Collins, of course, caved.

What followed were back-to-back no-decision games for Harvey in which the bullpen coughed up 1-0 leads. Obviously, with benefit if hindsight the Mets would rather have had Harvey pitch longer in those games than stay in for a few more innings in a meaningless game against the Yankees.

Then Harvey was hammered in the worst start of his career and Collins thought he had a “tired arm.”

The goal, said pitching coach Dan Warthen, is to have the pitchers make 30 starts over the course of the year instead of 34.

The fatal flaw to this plan is pitchers are creatures of habit and it is difficult to jump into this format in midstream, a move that has all the pitchers annoyed to some degree.

At the start of spring training, I wrote the Mets should map out Harvey’s starts from April through September with a definitive idea of how many innings he would throw in each start. Well, the Mets didn’t want to do that because they didn’t want to come across as having a leash on Harvey, an idea he despised.

However, in the end it looks as if they will have to do what they should have done in the first place.

There’s a saying the smart carpenter measures twice but saws once. However, the Mets come across as Gilligan trying to build a grass hut.

May 27

Flores Not Mets’ Biggest Flaw

Critics of the Mets, and there are many, are missing the point when it comes to Wilmer Flores. I just read somewhere of a list of the Mets’ biggest flaws, and of course, Flores is right up there as they point to his errors.

FLORES: Comes through in clutch. (AP)

FLORES: Comes through in clutch. (AP)

Unquestionably, Flores is a flawed player, but who isn’t? He’s in the lineup for his bat, plain and simple. That’s it. Nobody expects him to be Ozzie Smith, or Cal Ripken, or Jimmy Rollins in the field. Yes, he has problems with errors, mostly throwing and his range is limited.

But, the Mets knew that going in. Flores is in the lineup because of his hitting potential. Like Daniel Murphy, he’s a player without a natural position and the Mets needed to find a place for him to play. He will improve with more work, playing time and better positioning. He’ll never be Ripken, but he’ll get the job done.

Flores is starting to hit, evidenced by six RBI in his last three games. Last night he tied the game with a sacrifice fly and won it with a single. How many of you were complaining about him then? Or when he hit that homer earlier in the week?

Not many, I presume.

One of the best things manager Terry Collins has done is to not panic when Flores throws one away. Unlike GM Sandy Alderson, who has thrown quite a few verbal daggers at Flores, Collins has stayed the course, which is something I was concerned about before the season started.

“He realizes there’s going to be a day that you’re going to make an error,” Collins told reporters last night. “He’s got to play through that. And I think he’s doing that. You’re starting to see a guy who is going to start swinging the bat like we know he can. He’s going to put up some offensive numbers that people are going to be pretty impressed by.”

In the end, Flores will win more games for the Mets with his bat than he will cost them with his glove.

Sure, I wish he were better defensively, but so does he. Yes, he’s flawed, but he’s not the biggest on a team of flaws.

As a Mets’ fan, I would be less concerned with trying to replace the team’s leading home run hitter, and more concerned with David Wright‘s injury … the bullpen … cracks in the starting rotation … and an overall lack of hitting.

ON DECK: Today’s lineup.

May 26

All The Numbers Add Up To Good News For Harvey

Matt Harvey topped out at 96 mph., Saturday when the Mets were routed in Pittsburgh. That velocity belied manager Terry Collins‘ guess of a tired arm, which often it the first choice of those who really don’t know.

So far, everything adds up to just a bad start.

HARVEY: Encouraging news.  (AP)

HARVEY: Encouraging news. (AP)

Harvey, who is coming off a career-worst seven-run hammering at the hands of the Pirates, had his normal between-starts throw-day today, and left without saying anything. This normally could be interpreted as troubling news, but pitching coach Dan Warthen said things went well.

Why would Warthen say that if it weren’t true?

To date, Harvey has not been seen by an orthopedic specialist, nor has he had X-Rays or an MRI – at least the Mets aren’t reporting such – so all that has to be looked at in a positive light.

Harvey will be working with an extra day of rest Friday because the Mets are off Thursday, but if Collins is sure something was wrong with his pitcher’s arm, it would be a no-brainer to totally skip him.

So, unless the Mets are concealing something, it all adds up to Harvey stinking up the joint last Saturday. It happens.