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.

 

Mar 19

Is Cespedes In Center The Best Thing?

Mets manager Terry Collins is reportedly reluctant to play Yoenis Cespedes anywhere in the outfield other than centerfield, to which I ask: Why? Frankly, after watching Cespedes in last year’s World Series, I wonder if he’s not overmatched playing centerfield.

GRANDERSON: Maybe better off in center. (Getty)

GRANDERSON: Maybe better off in center. (Getty)

From left to right, the current Mets’ outfield plan is Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Curtis Granderson, with 2014 Gold Glove Award winner Juan Lagares coming off the bench. Assuming he’s healthy, Lagares is the Mets’ best defensive outfielder, but the other three are superior at the plate.

On days when Lagares does play, it should be in center for the simple reason that with the Mets’ premium on pitching they should field their best defensive alignment whenever possible. Given that, I wonder why Granderson isn’t being considered in center with Cespedes in right (the best outfield arm is usually in right and that’s Cespedes).

I’m wondering if the Mets, in pursuing Cespedes in the outfield, didn’t promise him center field. Granderson can play center field, and probably just as well as Cespedes.

If the idea is to give yourself the best chance to win and given that, I’m not convinced Cespedes in center is the right decision.

 

 

 

 

Mar 17

No Brainer Harvey Opening Day Starter

In a decision best described as a “no-brainer,’’ the Mets announced this morning Matt Harvey will be their Opening Day starter, April 3, at Kansas City.

So, let me be the first to say, “Harvey will be coming out for the tenth inning.’’

HARVEY: Gets Opening Day call. (AP)

HARVEY: Gets Opening Day call. (AP)

I wonder how much Harvey’s ninth-inning, Game 5 meltdown went into manager Terry Collins’ decision to go with Harvey. After all, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard were also viable options. If there was any “we want top re-establish his confidence’’ thinking – which I doubt – Collins wouldn’t admit to it. I’m sure he’ll be asked about it until the season starts.

For the past three years, the Mets have done things to project Harvey as the team’s ace, not the least of which is his $4 salary, which exceeds the combined amount of the rest of their young rotation. This excludes, of course, Bartolo Colon, who is seemingly ageless.

Based on service time, sure, Harvey has to be the one. Also playing into the decision has to be some ego. Harvey can be brash at times, but he’s also sensitive and probably would take being passed over as a slight. That’s not a bad thing, but why would Collins want to ruffle his feathers?

Harvey was thrilled with the appointment.

“It’s a huge honor,” Harvey told reporters. “A year after surgery, I’m 100 percent. It’s interesting how the schedule took place. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. It will bring back a lot of memories, but also bring out a lot of fire.”

Maybe that was part of Collins’ thinking.

There have been no issues surrounding Harvey based on protecting his surgically-repaired elbow, which is a great sign. I wrote several weeks ago Harvey should get the ball, and before that, projecting him to win 20 games this summer.

I was right on one. Hopefully, I’ll be correct on the other.

 

Mar 02

Collins: “Time To Get To Work”

So far it has been all fun and giggles for the Mets in the early days of spring training, but with the exhibition schedule to begin Thursday against the Nationals, manager Terry Collins said it’s time to get serious.

His timing was right. It shows he has his fingers on the pulse of his team.

COLLINS: Time to get to work.  (AP)

COLLINS: Time to get to work. (AP)

Six straight days of showing up in camp with a different car by Yoenis Cespedes is one thing. It’s his money and he can do what he wants with it. Then there was Cespedes shelling out $7,000 for a prize pig. Again, it’s his money and if he throws a BBQ for his teammates, well, that’s more team bonding.

The kicker came when Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard rode horses into camp yesterday. That was the kicker for Collins, who thought there might have been too much fooling around, if not a little bit of recklessness because after all, either one of those guys could have fallen off and gotten hurt.

“The fun time is over,” Collins told reporters. “It’s time to finally get ready for baseball.”

As far as Cespedes, Collins doesn’t have a problem with him having fun for now.

“He does his drills,” Collins said. “He works hard. He’s getting ready to play. He’s having a little fun for the time being. But, like I said, it’s time to get ready for baseball now.”