Mar 30

Maybe Harvey’s Poor Spring Comes From Lack Of Work

Matt Harvey might not be pitching to midseason form, but his attitude has a July feel. Harvey’s poor pitching this spring continued Wednesday when he gave up a three-run homer to Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman, and after the game didn’t talk to reporters.

HARVEY: Had poor spring. (Getty)

HARVEY: Had poor spring. (Getty)

Reportedly, he didn’t like the coverage of his bladder treatment, and this is how he decided to handle it.

I’ll just say: If Harvey really wants to be considered an ace, then he needs to understand aces have a responsibility to talk with the media. And, if he’s as smart as he thinks he is, he had to know he would be asked how he felt considering his medical issue. It comes with the territory of being a star.

Real aces would understand. Anyway, Harvey has pitched like anything but a star.

His 1-2 record and 7.50 ERA is irrelevant. However, in 12 innings he’s given up 10 hits and nine walks for a 1.83 WHIP. Hitters are batting .302 against him. And, let’s not forget the six runs he gave up in a minor league game against the Cardinals.

“You can say whatever you want; it’s still spring training,” manager Terry Collins told reporters. “We’ll worry about how he throws the ball on Sunday night.”

So, what’s Harvey’s problem? All indications are his arm is fine, but he’s only pitched in four exhibition games. Normally, a starter would get six starts and work 30 innings. Perhaps, in an effort to protect Harvey, the Mets didn’t give him enough work.

Just a thought.

 

 

Mar 28

Are You Concerned With How Mets Are Playing?

At the start of the exhibition schedule, Mets manager Terry Collins said he wasn’t wrapped up in wins and losses as much as he was the team playing well and executing. Including today’s loss to the Cardinals, it has been 11 straight games without a victory. That’s more than a subtle suggestion they aren’t playing well.

COLON: Hasn't had good spring. (AP)

COLON: Hasn’t had good spring. (AP)

For the most part, the starting pitching has done well. Steven Matz had his best start of the spring Sunday, but has given up 16 hits and 11 walks in 18.2 innings, numbers that might send other starters to the minors. Bartolo Colon, today’s starter against St. Louis, has not pitched well. At the end of the game, the bullpen has been inconsistent, something you don’t want to see with a week left in camp.

Injuries are always a concern and the Mets have had their bumps. David Wright has played in only six games and has just 17 at-bats, but is expected to play in four games this week. He won’t open the season as sharp as hoped.

It is hoped Asdrubal Cabrera (strained knee) will be ready. Michael Conforto had a sore lower back, but seems to be all right now. But, he’s only hitting .225. A lot is expected of him this summer.

Other key Mets having poor springs are Neil Walker (.211), Lucas Duda (.206) and Travis d’Arnaud (.200).

It wouldn’t be so bad if there were only a handful of players being off, but I’ve named eight, which a third of the roster.

Yes, it’s only spring training, but slow springs have been known to turn into sluggish Aprils and long seasons. I don’t care about the wins right now, but I will next week. What I do care about is how cleanly and crisply they are playing, and their play leaves a lot to be desired.

 

Mar 25

Cespedes Being Cespedes?

Mets manager Terry Collins has been known to fall on the sword for his players when they screw up. He’s done it for Matt Harvey and he did it again Thursday for Yoenis Cespedes after he misplayed A.J. Reed‘s drive into an inside-the-park home run.

Cespedes has been known to give up on plays and go through the motions. Yes, I know it was only an exhibition game, a “practice game,” if you will. But, don’t you practice to get it right?

CESPEDES:  Yoenis Being Yoenis. (AP)

CESPEDES: Yoenis Being Yoenis. (AP)

“Yes, I guess I could grab it,” Cespedes told reporters what his thought process was as the play unfolded.

“He thought it got stuck,” Collins said. “The umpire [C.B. Bucknor] went out and swiped the ball and said it wasn’t stuck. It’s one of those things we could talk about a ground rule, [but] we don’t talk about that much in spring training. … It was just a misunderstanding more than anything.”

Misunderstanding? Huh, that’s an odd choice of words. Cespedes would have had a better chance of selling it had he bothered to bend down and reach for the ball. It’s not really a novel thought.

“The ball fell under the fence,” Cespedes said. “It got wedged in there. For me, I couldn’t grab that. I thought that should have followed the ground rule and should have just been the double.”

Bucknor easily swiped the ball from under the fence, so it clearly did not get wedged. And, as far as not being able to grab it, well, that could be because he never reached for it. The ball isn’t going to come to him, after all.

It will take some doing to beat this out as the dumbest quote of the year.

“[The umpire] said, ‘You should be able to grab that,’ ” Cespedes said. “I said, ‘Of course I could grab that –  if I stick my hand in there and pull it out, yes, I guess I could grab it.’ He stuck his hand in there and pulled it out. I could have done that as well. I just didn’t think that was what I needed to do.”

Translation: “Yeah, I could have gotten the ball had I bothered.”

Cespedes has been known to mailing it in and assuming the play. He got away with it Thursday because the game didn’t matter. That’s his free one. Here’s hoping he learned something and doesn’t do the same thing when the games count.

They will in a little over a week, and that’s when the Mets start paying him $27.5 million.

Mar 24

Looking At Mets’ Injuries

The one thing capable of derailing any team is injuries and the Mets aren’t any more immune than any other team. Fortunately for them, their starters haven’t been touched, although Jacob deGrom‘s velocity is down and Steven Matz has been pounded.

Both bear watching.

CONFORTO: Has sore back. (Getty)

CONFORTO: Has sore back. (Getty)

However, if the season started today the Mets have numerous health issues that would put the brakes on a fast start. The most pertinent are:

Michael Conforto: He’s dealing with lower back spasms that took him out of Wednesday’s game. He saw doctors today in Port St. Lucie and the prognosis is favorable.

“It was a little tight this morning,” Conforto told reporters. “Obviously, the ride home didn’t help. But I came in here and just got it loosened up pretty good. It feels a lot better.”

That’s encouraging, but it must be noted Conforto has a history of back problems, but he said it hasn’t kept him out for a significant period of time.

David Wright: Speaking of sore backs, there’s the third baseman, who was to play in exhibition games Thursday and Friday. That would leave him only a week, which isn’t enough time to get enough at-bats to get sharp.

Wright pushed it running the bases earlier in the week which resulted in his legs getting stiff, something manager Terry Collins said was to be expected.

Assuming Wright opens the season on the active roster, Collins said he’s not inclined to use him as a designated hitter, which would be a mistake. If the Mets’ intent is ease Wright into the season and take pressure off his back, then doing so as a designated would be a prudent option considering five of their 22 games in April are played in American League parks (two in Kansas City and three in Cleveland).

Doing otherwise would be ridiculous.

Asdrubal Cabrera: After missing much of spring training with a strained patellar tendon in his left knee, Cabrera is being eased in as a DH. When he was first injured, the thinking was Cabrera would open the season on the disabled list. That could still be the case, which appears likely considering he’s not even running.

Even with Cabrera injured, the Mets dumped Ruben Tejada, something they might eventually regret.

Yoenis Cespedes: He was bothered by a sore hit two weeks ago, but appears all right now. Even so, it’s a leg injury and that’s always something to watch.

Josh Edgin: He’s recovering from Tommy John surgery and won’t be ready until early May. He only recently got into a game. The Mets have lefty relievers Sean Gilmartin and Antonio Bastardo, so they can get by without Edgin for now.

Erik Goeddel: Was sidelined with a strained lat muscle earlier in camp, but there’s a chance he could be ready by Opening Day.

 

Mar 21

Mets Matters: How Rotation Should Be Handled In First Week

It shouldn’t be all that hard for the Mets to figure out what to do with their starting rotation in the first week of the season. Should it?

This much we already know: 1) Matt Harvey will get the opener, Sunday night, April 3, in Kansas City, 2) Jacob deGrom‘s wife is scheduled to give birth to the couple’s first child, April 5, which could be deGrom’s game, and 3) the Mets have, unbelievably, three days off in the first week.

Let’s first start with deGrom, who struck out five in four scoreless innings Monday against Miami. It’s very possible deGrom might not be in Kansas City and with his wife for the second game of the season. And, if his arm is there, his mind likely won’t be.

mets-matters logoSo, why not just tell deGrom right now to be with his wife and give the Game 2 start to Noah Syndergaard? It seems to me that would settle things down.

Manager Terry Collins said Monday Syndergaard would pitch in the season’s second game, but it could be in relief of deGrom. “Piggy-backing is the term, but it they are going to do it, make it with Steven Matz or Bartolo Colon. And, whomever is not used then pitch him in relief of deGrom for Opening Day at Citi Field, Friday.

The way things are looking now, it appears the starters won’t get much more than six innings in their first game.

DEGROM NOT BRINGING HEAT:  DeGrom has pitched statistically well this spring (0.90 ERA) but his fastball isn’t where he wants it, and that’s usually the first pitch he’ll command in spring training. DeGrom was clocked around 95 mph., last year, but was 91-93 Monday.

“I feel like it will come,” deGrom told reporters. “I’m getting everything back in line mechanics-wise, everything will be there. It’s spring training. I’m not worried about it all.”

DeGrom’s fall off in velocity raises the question that in the Mets’ effort in protecting their pitchers and cutting them back early this spring, that perhaps they didn’t give them enough work to build up their strength and stamina.

AROUND THE HORN:  David Wright was hitless in three at-bats and played five innings at third base. “This is just, for me, a normal spring-training build-up now,” Wright told reporters. “There’s nothing really out of the ordinary. I know it took a little while to get going, but we’re going now. And, as far as I’m concerned, it’s just like a normal spring.” … Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who hasn’t played since March 10 with a strained left knee, should be available as a DH this week. … Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud will make the cross-state trip to Tampa for Tuesday’s game against the Yankees. Matz will start for the Mets.