Apr 02

Harvey Is Ready, But Are Mets?

Matt Harvey is ready. Now, what about the rest of the Mets?

Harvey, who’ll start the season’s third game in Washington, threw four scoreless innings today in a 0-0 tie with St. Louis today, and he immediately pronounced himself ready.

“I’m ready to go,” Harvey told reporters. “All the work has been put in, and it is time to just let all that loose.”

Harvey did not walk a hitter and threw 41 of 56 pitches for strikes.

“You hear stories of guys who have trouble with command coming back,” Harvey said. “That was something that I really worked on. Obviously you never know until you start facing hitters and get into a game.”

Harvey is the first of a long list of questions I posed at the start of spring training. As the Mets are in Texas to play the Rangers this weekend before heading to Washington, let’s re-visit those questions:

Q: How healthy is Harvey?

A: This is arguably the most important question of the season. Today was part of the good news. The Mets are thinking 30 starts and 190 innings. He’ll be on a 90-pitch count for the Nationals.

HARVEY: So far healthy this spring.  (AP)

HARVEY: So far healthy this spring. (AP)

Q: Who breaks camp as the leadoff hitter?

A: This remains undecided, but it appears Juan Lagares is the frontrunner based on his speed, not to mention a new four-year contract. However, Lagares must still improve his on-base percentage and reduce his strikeouts. Curtis Granderson could hit second if Daniel Murphy isn’t ready, otherwise he should be in the middle of the order.

Q: How healthy is David Wright?

A: A weak shoulder sapped Wright of his power last season, but he has had a good spring. Wright is the centerpiece of the offense. If he’s on his game, the offense could be as potent as it was in Florida.

Q: Wil Dillon Gee be traded?

A: Unbelievably, the Mets are still interested in trying to trade him. They wanted too much when they dangled him during the winter. They finally broke down this week and slotted him into the rotation.

Q: How good is Wilmer Flores?

A: Flores had a solid spring and nobody is talking about replacing him. He needs a legitimate opportunity, and that includes sticking with him even if with a poor start.

Q: What is the make-up of the bullpen?

A: Bobby Parnell and Josh Edgin will open the season on the disabled list. Jenrry Mejia will come out of spring training as the closer and Jeurys Familia as the set-up closer. The Mets will keep Rule 5 lefty Sean Gilmartin, along with lefty acquisitions Jerry Blevins and Alex Torres. Filling out the bullpen is long-man Carlos Torres and Rafael Montero.

Q: Any injuries?

A: They wouldn’t be the Mets without injuries. Zack Wheeler and Edgin are lost for the season following Tommy John surgery. Lucas Duda missed three weeks with a strained intercostal muscle, but enters the season in good shape. Granderson was hit on the leg with a pitch today and it is questionable for Opening Day. The Mets are adamant Murphy will not start the season on the disabled list. No doubt, that’s a gamble.

 

 

Mar 30

Mets Deal Den Dekker

Several hours after the Mets acquired lefty reliever Alex Torres from San Diego for pitcher Cory Mazzoni, they pulled off a second deal for Jerry Blevins from Washington for outfielder Matt den Dekker.

Blevins, 31, was 2-3 with a 4.87 ERA in 64 games. Den Dekker was not going to make the team as a reserve outfielder because Kirk Nieuwenhuis is out of options and is having an outstanding spring.

The Mets have been in dire need of a left-handed reliever since Josh Edgin underwent Tommy John surgery.

They have already optioned Scott Rice to the minor leagues and are expected to do the same with Dario Alvarez.

However, Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin could still make the team.

ON DECK: Strong games today by Rafael Montero and Lucas Duda raise questions.

Mar 25

Mets’ Outfield Alignment Set

In somewhat of a surprise, manager Terry Collins announced today Michael Cuddyer would play left field and Curtis Granderson would be in right.

The decision is somewhat of a surprise because the presumption was Cuddyer – with 854 career games in right and just three in left – would play the position where he was most comfortable.

However, this makes sense in the respect right field is tricky in Citi Field, and Granderson handled it well.

That Cuddyer has been deaf in his left ear since he was 11 is not an issue, said Collins. Cuddyer can still see and will be able to see the dugout waving him into position.

However, it could be a concern if he and center field Juan Lagares converge on a ball.

WHEELER SURGERY: Zack Wheeler underwent successful Tommy John surgery this morning at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.

Dr. David Altchek performed the surgery and Wheeler is expected to be out until June of 2016.

ON DECK: Who is in better position to win sooner, the Mets or Yankees?

Mar 20

As Details Emerge, Clearly Wheeler Gambled And Lost

The news is worse than expected for Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler, who will have Tommy John surgery next week and miss not only this season, but least the first two months of 2016.

Bottom line: His torn ulnar collateral ligament is worse than expected.

WHEELER: Gambled and lost. (Getty)

WHEELER: Gambled and lost. (Getty)

Couple that with the previous revelation from GM Sandy Alderson that Wheeler pitched through pain last year, and one can’t help but wonder if something was missed from the two MRIs he had over the winter. If nothing else, a wrong decision made following hearing the results.

One has to wonder who was giving Wheeler advice.

Wheeler said it wasn’t until offseason MRIs, particularly one in January that showed a partially torn tendon attached to a bony deposit in the elbow. He eschewed surgery because the recovery time was put at up to six months and would have put this year in jeopardy. Instead, he opted for platelet-rich-plasma therapy and to pitch through the pain.

From his perspective, Wheeler has no problems with how he was handled last summer.

“I can’t complain about how the Mets handled me last year innings wise,’’ Wheeler told reporters. “I don’t have any complaints at all about how they handled me.’’

After Wheeler was shut down for last week’s start, Alderson finally ordered a MRI. Wheeler met with team physician David Altchek Wednesday and orthopedic specialist Dr. Andrews the following day. Wheeler insists this is when he learned of the full tear and need for surgery.

“Of course I’m nervous about it,’’ Wheeler said. “But you’ve got to do it and have that mindset when you’re coming back that you’re going to be 100 percent and better than you were before. I knew it probably eventually was going to happen. You aren’t meant to throw overhand and throw hard.’’

As details continue to emerge, it is obvious Wheeler gambled and lost.

ON DECK:  Mets Matters: Today’s notes.

 

Mar 17

Alderson Defense Of Handling Of Wheeler Injury Weak

Mets GM Sandy Alderson answered many of the questions pertaining to Zack Wheeler’s injury Monday. However, that doesn’t mean he answered them all, and that’s not to say the Mets’ handling of the injury couldn’t have been better.

Alderson defended his handling of Wheeler’s injury, and as he frequently does with these things, his tenor came off as condescending and maddening. As usual, he came across as the lawyer treating us like idiots.

ALDERSON: Defense of Wheeler injury weak. (AP)

ALDERSON: Defense of Wheeler injury weak. (AP)

Most irksome was how he described Wheeler’s breakdown as “inevitable,’’ much as it was for Matt Harvey and saying the Mets’ treatment of each was the same.

“Let me just ask, why would we treat somebody like Harvey with the kind of caution that we did and then throw somebody else under the bus – somebody of essentially equal value to us as an organization?’’ Alderson said to reporters today. “That wouldn’t make any sense. I understand people can debate the number of pitches and the number of innings and this and that. We simply wouldn’t treat two guys that differently.’’

But, they did.

Harvey was shut down shortly after the All-Star break in 2013, but Wheeler continued to pitch at the end of last season despite soreness in his elbow. Alderson and manager Terry Collins even conceded Monday how Wheeler managed through the pain at the end of last year.

Alderson maintained Wheeler’s elbow was eventually going to break down, yet he was trotted out there every fifth day.

“The other thing is, when a guy is being managed, you understand what the sort of apocalyptic result could be – he blows something out,’’ Alderson said. “But the question is, what’s the alternative? If it blows out, it blows out. The alternative is that you manage somebody to the point where he’s not useful to you.’’

Which is what happened, as it has numerous times with other Mets.

When it comes to the Mets and pitching injuries, the club has a long list, including: Harvey, Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Bobby Parnell, Dillon Gee, Johan Santana, Jenrry Mejia, Jeremy Hefner and Jon Niese.

That’s more than an entire rotation and nearly a complete staff. A common thread in these injuries have been Alderson and pitching coach Dan Warthen.

The Mets didn’t have Harvey last year, but nonetheless made a run at respectability, as in finishing .500 or better. You can’t help but wonder if the goal to be competitive forced them to push Wheeler too hard.

Questions linger about the others, although not all had Tommy John surgery. What was their training routine like? Did they throw too hard, too soon, at the start of spring training? Were they properly monitored? Did they throw too soon in the offseason? Did they throw too much between starts? What was the rest of their conditioning program like?

Alderson answered the question as to why he didn’t immediately order a MRI for Wheeler. It seemed somewhat plausible at the time, but after sleeping on it and considering the long list of ailing Mets’ pitchers under his watch, it left something to be desired.

Using “lawyerspeak,’’ Alderson defended his handling of Wheeler’s injury. There was his usual fancy language, but a sharp district attorney would nail him.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s Notebook.