Nov 10

Mets’ GM Alderson Goes To GM Meetings With Many Needs But Few Options

There is normally little action at the GM meetings, which begin Monday for New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson in Orlando, the same city in which the winter meetings will take place a month later.

Alderson is open to discuss trades and signing free agents, but realistically the Mets have little trading pieces on the major league level, and the most coveted prospects on the minor league level he wants to protect.

Alderson knows he must protect his young pitching assets while Matt Harvey mends from Tommy John surgery.

The free agent market will be flooded Monday when those players given qualifying offers are expected to reject them to test the market.

Let’s face it, the Mets won’t be serious bidders for Jacoby Ellsbury, are expected to lose out on Shin-Soo Choo, and will likely be outbid for Stephen Drew. This leaves the Mets still with holes in the outfield and shortstop.

The Mets also have need for two starters at the back end of the rotation, a back-up catcher for Travis d’Arnaud, depth in the bullpen and a decision to make at first base between Ike Davis and Lucas Duda.

Alderson has a lot of work to do, and despite saying he has the latitude to make a $100-million package, but Ellsbury and Choo what more than that and more than four years.

So, Alderson will be in Orlando to meet with general managers and agents and must be creative.

 

Nov 06

Mets Should Consider Yankees’ Phil Hughes And Joba Chamberlain; Both Could Be Bargains

The New York Mets don’t have to look far if they want to plug one of the holes in the back end of their rotation.

The Yankees have no interest in bringing back either Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain, and for those believing in the “change of scenery,’’ theory, they might be able additions to the Mets’ staff as they are 27 and 28, respectively.

HUGHES: Should be on Mets' radar.

HUGHES: Should be on Mets’ radar.

Although both have been injured during their short careers, they are healthy now, but largely ineffective.

Hughes was a miserable 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA last season in 30 starts and lost his spot in the rotation. However, he won 16 games in 2012 and 18 games in 2010. He was 8-3 when the Yankees won the World Series in 2009.

“This year has been a struggle for him,’’ Yankees manager Joe Girardi said in a classic understatement after the season.

Considering Hughes has experienced major league success, and has made at least 30 starts in three of the last four seasons, and twice in that span worked at least 175 innings.

Hughes made $7.15 million last season, not unreasonable for a starter with a recent history of durability.

It shouldn’t be underestimated that a significant explanation in part for Hughes’ trouble is that he’s a fly ball pitcher working in a phone booth. That’s a major contributor to his career 4.54 ERA and an average of 24 homers given up per season.

Citi Field, the lack of a designated hitter, and being away from the Yankee Stadium boo-birds could be the change he needs.

His salary isn’t unreasonable, and his age is a plus. This isn’t like signing Bronson Arroyo, who’ll be 37 in February, and wouldn’t be able to give the Mets more than a year or two.

As for Chamberlain, he’s been treated similar to Jenrry Mejia in that he was bounced around from the rotation to the bullpen earlier in his career before being a strict reliever the last four years.

Once considered the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera, Chamberlain sustained a shoulder injury in 2008 and eventually had Tommy John surgery in 2011. The following spring he mangled his ankle when he fell off a trampoline.

Chamberlain has lost something off his fastball, but still throws hard enough to get the job done.

Chamberlain earned just $1.8 million last season while going 2-1 with a 4.93 ERA in 45 appearances. He worked only 42 innings in 45 games. Overall, he’s worked only 444.2 innings during his career so there’s a lot of mileage left.

Considering their needs, the ages and salary history of Hughes and Chamberlain, both could become steals for the Mets.

LATER TODAY: I will take a look at Curtis Granderson as a possible fit into the Mets’ outfield.

Oct 29

Mets’ Matt Harvey Reports Progress After Surgery

While watching those hot young arms the St. Louis Cardinals are showcasing to the nation during the World Series, no doubt you might be wondering about the Mets’ Matt Harvey.

Six days after undergoing Tommy John surgery, while attending Monday night’s Rangers’ home opener at Madison Square Garden, Harvey told the Daily News he was ahead of schedule.

HARVEY: Reports progress.

HARVEY: Reports progress.

Before getting too excited you must remember Harvey – who did not study medicine at the University of North Carolina – also announced surgery wasn’t necessary before he realized it might be the only way he misses one season instead of two.

“I am just doing range of motion stuff now, but today was the first day I could take the bandages off and I was at Hospital for Special Surgery working and everybody thinks I am ahead of schedule,’’ Harvey said. “We were able to straighten it today and I think they were surprised I could do that, already. So the rehab is ahead of schedule.’’

Yes, it would be great if Harvey could come back next September and pitch the Mets into the playoffs, but try not to get carried away.

Sure, Jenrry Mejia returned ten months after surgery, but he’s had a second surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow.

All humans are different. They have different thresholds of pain; they recover differently and not always at the same rate. When it comes to pitchers and Tommy John surgery, it seems all pitchers get it and the recovery rate has been especially high. However, it isn’t a given Harvey’s recovery and rehab will fall into that category, especially considering his propensity for pushing himself. He did not report back discomfort this season and made several starts with soreness in his forearm before an MRI revealed a tear.

We can only hope for the best in that regard, and that the Mets aren’t seduced by encouraging news and attempt to push him. There could be setbacks and the best thing is to go on planning without him and hope for the best in 2015.

If nothing else, the World Series has demonstrated how much pitching outweighs hitting as far as being a team priority.

For all the talk about David Ortiz, remember the Red Sox took Games 4 and 5 on the strength of production from the non-descript Jonny Gomes and David Ross, and the pitching of a deep bullpen in Game 4 and Jon Lester in Game 5.

And, quite simply, the Cardinals are here based on their young arms. When enticed by teams to part with the likes of Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard, general manager Sandy Alderson should note what the Cardinals have done with their pitching and what the Red Sox have done in patching their lineup with veteran, and relatively inexpensive, bats.

The Mets won 74 games this season, but before writing off 2014, remember only nine of those wins were by Harvey. He had 12 no-decisions. If the Mets can pick up a veteran arm in free-agency to compensate for those nine wins, and if Wheeler takes the next step and Jon Niese and Dillon Gee continue to improve, a .500 season, if not a winning year, is possible without diving into the deep end of the free-agent market and get stuck with a contract they’ll soon regret.

 

 

Oct 22

Mets’ All-Star Matt Harvey Undergoes Tommy John Surgery

The New York Mets announced this afternoon All-Star pitcher Matt Harvey underwent Tommy John surgery, with Dr. James Andrews performing in Gulf Breeze, Fla.

Harvey will miss the entire season.

HARVEY: Has the knife today.

HARVEY: Has the knife today.

Initially, Harvey wanted to attempt rest and rehab as treatment for the partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Harvey was even given Andrews’ blessing to try that first, but couldn’t build up the strength to resume throwing, let alone compete in the Arizona Fall League.

Harvey waffled on surgery for over a month, but in the end did what general manager Sandy Alderson thought he would. Alderson said he was careful not to influence Harvey’s decision, but once the All-Star starter opted for surgery he said it was the right choice.

Alderson admitted Harvey was taking a gamble that he would be healthy for spring training, then re-injure his elbow and miss the remainder of the 2014 season and all of 2015. Alderson described that as the worst possible scenario for the Mets.

All along, Alderson said Harvey’s condition wouldn’t impact the Mets’ offseason approach to their rotation. Alderson said not to expect the Mets to sign a marquee free agent pitcher despite him saying he had the resources. Instead, Alderson said the team would target two innings eaters for the back end of the rotation until Rafael Montero’s Super Two deadline is reached and he would be available by June.

The Mets’ current rotation is Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee, all with questions of their own. Niese is coming off a slightly torn rotator cuff; Wheeler was scratched from his last start with a sore shoulder and will be entering his first full season; and Gee, based on victories, is now the de facto No. 1.

The Mets also do not know whether Jenrry Mejia, who underwent elbow surgery to remove bone spurs will be available for the start of the season.

The innings-eaters Alderson is searching for could be Aaron Harang and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Both showed enough – especially Matsuzaka – to warrant being brought to spring training.

Trouble is, they also showed enough to other teams who might pry them away if the Mets lowballed them.

It sure is strange how things tend to turn around. Prior to Harvey’s injury the Mets were thinking about going to a six-man rotation to conserve innings for Harvey and Wheeler.

They are now looking for help.

Oct 04

Mets’ Matt Harvey Opts For Surgery; Alderson Relieved At Decision

The bad news the New York Mets hoped to avoid, but long suspected they would eventually face, was acknowledged this afternoon when Matt Harvey elected to undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a partially torn UCL that will force him to miss the entire 2014 season.

Harvey had been gradually considering surgery, and met with general manager Sandy Alderson to confirm. Alderson said he stayed away from Harvey as to not prejudice the decision.

HARVEY: Will take the knife. (AP)

HARVEY: Will take the knife. (AP)

“Matt came to this decision through the course of his rehab,” Alderson said this afternoon on a conference call. “He’s had quite a bit of time to think about it. I always assumed Matt would reach this conclusion. I felt this would be the right decision and I am happy Matt reached this decision.”

Had Harvey opted for surgery when he was initially injured, there was an outside chance he could have been available next September, but he was adamant in trying a six-to-eight week throwing program and rehabilitation in the hope of being ready for the season.

The timetable is for Harvey to have surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews will perform surgery by the end of the month and from there he should be ready for spring training, 2015.

Even so, this is the right decision for Harvey as it eliminates the possibility of starting the season, then blowing out his elbow and not only missing all of 2014, but also 2015. Alderson said that was a critical aspect for Harvey’s decision.

“That he might lose two seasons instead of one was definitely a factor,” Alderson said.

On Monday, before traveling to Florida for the Mets’ organizational meetings, Alderson said Harvey would have to show progress if he was to have a chance at pitching in the Arizona Fall League. It is hard to define progress when he hadn’t even started throwing. Harvey had been rehabbing at the Hospital of Special Surgery in Manhattan.

Harvey was magnificent while going 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA in 26 starts. He struck out 191 hitters in 178.1 innings with a microscopic 0.931 WHIP. However, the most amazing number with Harvey was a staggering 12 no-decisions.

Those are significant numbers to be removed from a rotation Alderson said is now three deep with Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee. Alderson indicated the Mets could bring back veterans Aaron Harang and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Alderson said the Mets aren’t likely to compensate for losing Harvey by signing a high profile free agent, but instead sign a mid-level veteran such a Bronson Arroyo. Alderson left open the possibility of a homegrown prospect such as Rafael Montero or Noah Syndergaard making the rotation out of spring training, but said that wasn’t a preferable option.

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