Jun 16

Terry Collins Questions Resolve Of Mets

There are roughly six weeks left of relevance in the season for the New York Mets. That takes into consideration the All-Star Game – Citi Field’s one chance to shine in the national spotlight – and past the trade deadline when we learn what Mets are rescued from the dark abyss of losing and brought into the shining light of a pennant race.

In praising Jon Niese’s spotty, yet gritty effort in another Mets’ loss Saturday to the Chicago Cubs, manager Terry Collins indirectly threw the rest of his team under the effort bus.

COLLINS: Alone with haunting thoughts? (Getty)

COLLINS: Alone with haunting thoughts? (Getty)

“Jon Niese didn’t have his good stuff,’’ an exasperated Collins told reporters. “He battled through six innings. He didn’t want to come out of the game. That’s what I want.’’

Huh?

“I want guys who don’t want to come out of the game,’’ Collins continued. “I want guys that say, ‘I care enough, as much as you do, that I want to stay in the game.’ We get more guys like that, we’ll win more baseball games.’’

Niese did not pitch well, but gutted into the sixth inning. It wasn’t a quality effort, but a starter must persevere. Collins praised Niese, but in doing so said he doesn’t have enough players with that resolve. He didn’t say players have quit, but read between the lines.

There must be players not named David Wright or Matt Harvey wondering if the manager was talking about them.

It’s also a dig at general manager Sandy Alderson for not getting him those players. And, in going full circle, it can be interpreted an indictment of himself; that he and his staff aren’t doing enough to motivate his players.

I wrote after the Ike Davis demotion if management believed it was heading in the right direction Collins should get an extension to avoid lame duck status. But, after what he said, you can’t help but think the manager believes this team lacks more than talent and is in deeper than just a hitting slump.

In one part of the clubhouse Wright held court and admitted it is tiring trying to come up with new answers to old questions. Wright spoke of guys needing to dig deep and use whatever motivators necessary to finish strong.

Finishing the season? Doesn’t that sound a lot like getting it over with?

Wright is captain for a reason, but it is time he takes off the gloves. It is time he takes this team by the scruff of the neck and shake it awake. It isn’t time to be a politician and say the right things. It is time to lead, and if it means being unpopular, than so be it.

Motivation? How about this being their jobs? How about pride? How about being a professional? How about manning up?

“A lot these guys are going to be part of the future,’’ said Wright. I know what he is getting at there, but if I hear the word “future,’’ pertaining to the Mets one more time I will scream.

Does anybody else remember the late football coach George Allen? Allen, in filling his roster with veterans, coined the phrase, “the future is now.’’

But, what about now?

The Mets won’t win now, but they can play hard now. They can play smart now. They can hustle now. They can give us a reason to watch now. They can earn their money now.

So, quit the crap and play ball. And, as for Collins – quit whining about what you don’t have and kick the group you do have in its collective butt.

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Jun 15

Mets’ Collins, Marcum Not Believable In Rotation Issue

It is difficult to believe either Terry Collins or Shaun Marcum regarding the New York Mets’ upcoming rotation decision to accommodate Zack Wheeler.

Whether he’s ready or not – and even he said he didn’t pitch his best at Triple-A Las Vegas – Wheeler is on his way to start the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves. The Mets already bought the plane ticket; he’s coming.

MARCUM: Hammered by Cubs. (AP)

MARCUM: Hammered by Cubs. (AP)

For now, Collins said the Mets will fly with a six-man rotation, but that’s probably once or twice through. Matt Harvey isn’t cool to the idea, so guess where this will go?

If based strictly on merit, the veteran Marcum, who fell to 0-8 Friday night against the Chicago Cubs, should be the odd-man out. But, he’s making $4 million this year, which amazingly, is the fifth-highest salary in the Mets’ payroll behind Johan Santana, David Wright, John Buck and Frank Francisco. And, this  does not include the deferred money owed Jason Bay, which could drop Marcum to sixth.

Collins, operating under the belief people are idiots, downplayed the salary angle.

“When it comes down to the time to make the decision, certainly I’m not sure salary is going to have anything to do with it,’’ Collins said Friday night. “I think we’re going to take the five guys that we need to make sure are the best five to go out there.’’

Of course, salary will have something to do with it as it always does with the Mets. And, it likely won’t be Collins’ call, either.

Salary is why they kept running Bay out there every day when it was clear he had nothing. Salary is why they hung onto Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo longer than needed. Salary is why they traded Carlos Beltran for Wheeler, and one can’t yet say the Mets won that deal. Salary might be why they resisted sending down Ike Davis to the minors, a decision that might have come too late.

Salary and cutting payroll has been the essence of everything the Mets have done in the Sandy Alderson era. You’d like to believe Collins in the decision will be based on merit, but Alderson’s track record indicates otherwise.

Marcum, who has had several good moments, notably his relief appearance in last week’s 20-inning loss to the Miami Marlins, has shown a propensity of working out of the bullpen, which makes it reasonable to figure he can do that job. However, Marcum’s dwindling trade value is as a starter and taking him out of that role could make that option difficult.

Marcum said, “I really haven’t thought about it,’’ which on second thought might be the truth because he knows he’ll get his money regardless.

ON DECK:  Johan Santana visits; a reminder of a lost deal.

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Jun 13

Even In Defeat Matt Harvey Makes Impact For Mets

You knew Matt Harvey wasn’t going to win them all, but the flip side is the New York Mets can’t lose all his starts, either.

Right?

HARVEY: A lot to like, even in defeat. (AP)

HARVEY: A lot to like, even in defeat. (AP)

At one time Harvey was 4-0 and we were wondering what else could come his way after a Sports Illustrated cover and dating a model. A few runs would be nice, but let’s not get greedy.

Since that start, he is 1-1 with eight no-decisions, including this afternoon’s 2-1 loss to St. Louis at Citi Field in a game the Mets now wish was rained out.

“It’s pitching. It’s going to happen,’’ Harvey told reporters in an answer which gives us another reason to like him.

Harvey said he goes into every start wanting to pitch the distance, not give up runs and win. That’s the attitude every pitcher should carry into every game.

Harvey won’t start the All-Star Game at Citi Field, which would have been a treat, but he could still make the National League roster. If he doesn’t and he stays healthy, there should be other opportunities.

Manager Terry Collins understands the frustrations Harvey might be experiencing, and is impressed with how is young ace is dealing with the stress.

“This guy is a different animal,’’ Collins told reporters. “He’s very, very aware of what he needs to do and what major league pitchers have to do. They can’t worry about lack of offense or [teammates] not making plays.

“They’ve got to go do their jobs. He’s done that, but when you’re pitching as well as he has and are just unable to win some games, it can be a little frustrating, especially for a young guy who is trying to make an impact in this league.’’

So far, even in defeat, Harvey has made a profound impact. And, yes, it would be sweet if we had the chance to see Harvey tip his cap during player introductions at the All-Star Game.

 

 

 

 

 

Jun 08

Matt Harvey No Longer Sure Thing; Timing Suspect For Zack Wheeler

Remember when Matt Harvey was cruising and the talk was how great it would be if he got to start in the All-Star Game at Citi Field?

If it seems like a long time ago, that’s because it is. Harvey is 5-0, but there’s no longer the feeling of invincibility.

WHEELER: Is he ready?

WHEELER: Is he ready?

Harvey is coming off a four-run, 10-hit outing in which he lasted a pedestrian five innings. Outside that performance last week in Miami, Harvey is still giving the Mets innings, but he and the team have little to show for it as he’s had seven no-decisions in his last eight starts, with the Mets losing half those games.

He’s still the best the Mets have to offer, but the sense of the game being over when goes to the mound is gone for a variety of reasons, notably a pathetic offense and leaking bullpen. Simply, Harvey can’t do it by himself.

Of course, that makes me wonder about Zack Wheeler. The conventional thought process on promoting a stud prospect is the time is right when he starts to dominate, but that hasn’t been the case with Wheeler.

In theory, once promoted Wheeler will stay, but last night he didn’t make it through five innings for Triple-A Las Vegas. Wheeler has had flashes of what could be, but also shown us what we saw in Mike Pelfrey.

Reportedly, Wheeler is to start next Friday at Citi Field, but you can’t like the timing. Why give him a week to sit on the start and get tight? Why not spring it on him and let him go on adrenalin?

Either way could be fine or disastrous, but thinking about it for a week doesn’t seem like the best option, especially with how poorly the Mets are playing. As much as Terry Collins warned Wheeler isn’t the “savior,’’ the team is putting extraordinary pressure on him.

You would hope the Mets would put Wheeler in the best position to succeed, but there appears to be a lot of obstacles, beginning with the timing, and including the anticipation and how badly the team is going.

Is there ever a right time to bring up a prospect? Not really with a struggling franchise because of the lofty expectations. Perhaps Wheeler is ready for all this … I don’t know.

However, I wonder about the ramifications if he’s not ready. The Mets rushed prospects before with terrible results – Pelfrey and Jenrry Mejia to name a couple – and you’d hate to see it with Wheeler.

Another variable is how well Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee have pitched recently. Both have pitched well enough to stay in the rotation. If Jon Niese is physically ready to go Sunday, there doesn’t appear to be the need for Wheeler.

It looks as if the Mets are forcing this and that can’t be good.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 05

Mets Matters: Is Kirk Nieuwenhuis An Upgrade?

I don’t understand all the hating of Rick Ankiel. Sure, he strikes out a lot, but he was brought here to plug a hole in the Mets’ shoddy outfield defense and hit the occasional home run. That, he’s done.

His throw in the ninth inning last night would have nailed Ryan Zimmerman at second had shortstop Omar Quintanilla been in position and stayed with the play. Had the play been made, perhaps the Mets would have won, but the point is no other outfielder’s throw would have made it close.

NIEUWENHUIS: On Mets' radar. (AP)

NIEUWENHUIS: On Mets’ radar. (AP)

I am all for playing the young players in a lost season, but Juan Lagares isn’t the answer. He has been clearly overmatched, but could get a chance against lefty Gio Gonzalez, who’ll replace Stephen Strasburg Thursday.

Terry Collins said Kirk Nieuwenhuis in back in the Mets’ thinking for a promotion, and I say, to do what? Strike out. The Mets already have enough of those hitters, including, Ankiel.

The rap on Triple-A Las Vegas is the climate makes it conducive for the long ball. That’s what Collins told Zack Wheeler, saying there would be less a premium on numbers. Using the same reasoning, why should Nieuwenhuis’ recent power surge of eight homers in 14 games – giving him ten overall – be regarded differently?

For his power, Nieuwenhuis only has 18 RBI, an indication he’s not hitting with runners in scoring position. Nieuwenhuis is still striking out at an alarming rate to prove he still doesn’t get it. He has more strikeouts (34) than hits (32) in 133 at-bats.

I don’t see where that is an upgrade.

PITCHING INJURY UPDATES: Jon Niese, who was scratched from his last start with shoulder tendinitis will throw in the bullpen this afternoon.

Niese hopes to start Saturday against Miami, but that is clearly in doubt. If his shoulder doesn’t respond, Niese could find himself on the disabled list.

Several weeks ago, Collins said back-to-back cold weather starts in Minnesota and Denver caused Niese’s back to tighten. It is possible this is a residual effect.

Also, Jeurys Familia will undergo surgery on his right elbow today to remove a bone spur.

PATRIOTIC OBLIGATION: As they always do when in Washington, the Mets will visit Walter Reed National Military Center this afternoon.

There are no reported exemptions from owner Fred Wilpon’s traditional, and urgent, request of his players.

IN TROUBLE: Cesar Puello isn’t in the major leagues, but the Double-A Binghamton outfielder is facing a suspension in the Biogenesis case now that founder Tony Bosch is willing to list names.

ON DECK: Tonight’s game.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos