Aug 26

Mets This Week: Watching Wheeler And Listening To Buck Offers

The New York Mets never made it over the hump en route to .500, and after being swept – better yet, mauled – by the Tigers, this week is about licking wounds and finding a positive heading into the last month.

The Mets are in serious danger of giving up third place to the Phillies, who are in for four games. But, that’s just cosmetic stuff.

WHEELER: Watching him closely. (AP)

WHEELER: Watching him closely. (AP)

The meat of the week is how they treat Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey, who’ll bookend the Phillies series. Wheeler has worked into the seventh in two of his last three starts, and went over 100 pitches in his last four games.

Terry Collins has not said what Wheeler’s limit will be tonight. One thing he won’t do, with rain in the forecast, is bring him back after a delay, so theoretically they could lose Wheeler’s start after two innings.

The Mets want to limit innings for Wheeler and Harvey, but haven’t come up with a definitive plan. They have not but a cap on a game, and seem to be hoping for off-days, of which they only have two remaining.

But, one is trumped because of a double header.

Harvey said he was gassed after Saturday’s loss, which puts him and the Mets in a difficult spot: How do they limit his innings, yet at the same time try to build him up to pitch in September?

I’m interested to see if the Mets don’t push Harvey back a day into the Washington series or skip him altogether.

Jonathon Niese starts Tuesday, his fourth since coming off the disabled list with a slight tear. Niese went seven innings in his last start and six in the previous two. He struck out nine hitters in his last two starts, showing there’s nothing wrong with his shoulder.

Even so, I’d be surprised if the Mets aren’t careful with him.

Getting the ball Wednesday will be Daisuke Matsuzaka, who gets mixed reviews from his Mets’ debut. On the down side, he gave up five runs in five innings. However, he retired the last ten batters he faced, so that is five runs in two innings.

The Mets get lefties Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, tonight and Wednesday, respectively, so which lefty-hitting first baseman gets to play, Lucas Duda or Ike Davis?

One thing for certain, is we’ll continue to see plenty of Travis d’Arnaud this week, and the Mets hope, for the next few years. That means seeing less of John Buck.

Buck has been terrific this year in what the Mets asked him to do, and since he showed there’s still pop in his bat, he’s going to want to play.

So, off the field, the Mets might have to decide if they are satisfied with d’Arnaud, Anthony Recker and whomever, and try to swing a waiver deal for Buck.

Your comments are appreciated and I attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 25

Decision Time For Mets On How To Limit Matt Harvey



How the New York Mets handle Matt Harvey the rest of the season we should know this week. Harvey admitted the effects of his workload this season are wearing him down, and with the concession Terry Collins knows there’s no more procrastinating with this issue.

Previously, Harvey said he wasn’t happy being limited, but following the loss, admitted being tired. He also said dealing with fatigue is part of the learning process. Eventually, the Mets will play meaningful games in September and October, and they will need Harvey.

“It’s a long season and you’ve got to push through it,’’ Harvey said. “Right now I’m not doing a good job of doing that, and we’ve got to figure something out.’’

Currently, Collins has three options, including: 1) pushing next Thursday’s start against Philadelphia back one day, 2) skipping his turn in the rotation completely and start him in the next turn, Sept. 3, and/or 3) stopping him at six innings period.

The problem with a strict innings cap of six is it doesn’t take into account the strain of the pitches thrown. Harvey threw 6.2 innings Saturday, but they were all grueling because of the tenacity of the pitches.

To his credit, Harvey is not using his lack of run support as an excuse. Clearly, with no runs, Harvey must bear down as he can’t risk a mistake. Saying such a thing, as true as it might be, takes a swipe at his offense, and Harvey won’t travel that road.

An extra 24 hours of rest helps minimally, but if he pitches the next day those innings still count. The best solution is to skin a turn, which takes away the opportunity at six or seven more innings.

From there, just cap his innings at five or six, and perhaps skip one more start. That should get him through the season at the prescribed innings count.

Then do the same with Zack Wheeler.

The problem with this preventative measure is it hinders developing his endurance, and it prevents nothing. Regardless of what steps take, a pitcher’s arm is a fragile thing not meant to throw a baseball with such torque and violence.

Something can always happen to a pitcher, with no guarantees of them not.

Face it, Nolan Ryan was a freak, and gone are the days when Juan Marichal threw 30 complete games in 1968. He threw 325.2 innings that season. He came back with 27 complete games the following year.

Clearly, it was a different era. Then rotations were four deep and complete games were the expected norm and not the exception. That was a mentality developed in the minor leagues and earlier.

From when Harvey first started pitching, complete games were a novelty. It’s too late to start him thinking otherwise.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 23

Seven Years Later, Daisuke Matsuzaka Starts For Mets

Falling under the category of “somebody has to do it,’’ the New York Mets will throw out Daisuke Matsuzaka to start tonight against Detroit.

The 32-year-old Matsuzaka, who never came close to living up to expectations when Boston outbid the Mets for him in 2006, is now a retread hanging on to his career.

Maybe, just maybe, if he shows something the final month of the season the Mets will bring him to spring training. That’s a peak into the future, but personally I’d rather see prospect Rafael Montero, who, like Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler has an innings cap.

Montero isn’t done, yet, this season, but I’m intrigued about seeing what he could have against the Tigers tonight at Citi Field, rather than against Detroit in Port St. Lucie in spring training. Even if it is for just one start, I’d like to see Montero, just to give us another glimpse into the future.

It won’t happen because of 40-man roster considerations.

With the Mets still mired nine games under .500, second place and a winning season appear to be slipping away, making the last month a spring training preview. In addition to Harvey and Wheeler, we’re getting to see Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores.

They haven’t disappointed; they have us anxious about the future, which is closer than we might have originally thought.

The rosters can be expanded Sept. 1, but I’d like to see some creative thinking and for the one weekend of the month have Major League Baseball waive the 40-man roster listing and enable teams not in the running to have a prospect promotion.

Bring up guys such as Matt den Dekker, Montero and Noah Syndergaard and let the Mets have their own Futures Weekend. Wouldn’t you rather see that as one of the games of the Sept. 14 doubleheader against Miami rather than guys such as Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Robert Carson?

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

Aug 22

Mets Reunion With Jose Reyes Unlikely

If you think the New York Mets’ parting with Jose Reyes was cold and difficult, just think about the potential of a possible reunion?

This is something percolating in my mind with the Toronto Blue Jays playing across town yesterday. However, it could happen because Reyes was traded from the team (Miami) that signed him a free agent, he’s eligible to go back on the market.

REYES: Don't see him coming back.

REYES: Don’t see him coming back.

Making this an enticing thought is the future is not Omar Quintanilla and Ruben Tejada is quickly morphing into a past tense option at shortstop.

Reyes’ departure was a poorly calculated departure that became a public relations fiasco. All summer GM Sandy Alderson said bringing back Reyes was an option, but in the end, the Mets never offered a contract so when the Miami Marlins dangled over $106 million, he was off.

I wrote at the time it was a messy divorce, but not surprising for several reasons.

Mets ownership, mired in the Madoff case, was under dire financial distress. They had the money to offer one major deal, but it was to go to Wright, not Reyes.

Money puts a strain on the strongest relationships, but the Mets and Reyes were never all that tight, even though the team gave its mercurial shortstop a long-term deal early in his career.

While money is always the easiest thing to point to, but there was also the issue of Reyes’ health. Reyes missed two months this year with an ankle injury, but previously with the Mets was sidelined with several hamstring injuries, including twice going on the disabled list in his final season in Flushing.

Reyes is having a decent season, hitting .295 with a .352 on-base percentage. However, including his last year with the Mets, his speed numbers (triples, stolen bases, and stolen-base percentages) are in decline.

Quite simply, he’s not the player he once was, when from 2005-8, he stole over 56 bases each year, three times leading the league. In that span, he also led the National League in triples three times.

The Mets forecast a decline in Reyes’ speed-related production, and now at 30 it is starting to happen. More breakdowns can be expected as Reyes goes deeper into his contract.

Reyes is in the second season of a seven-year deal with an option for 2018. Nobody, probably not even Reyes, believes he’ll run better as the years progress.

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

Aug 21

Is Bobby Parnell Risking 2014 By Delaying Surgery?

While New York Mets closer Bobby Parnell continues on the shelf with the prospect of surgery on his herniated disk, the question burns: What are he and the Mets waiting for?

Perhaps he can rehab to where surgery isn’t needed, but those odds are getting long.

PARNELL: Is he gambling 2014?

PARNELL: Is he gambling 2014?

Yes, yes, it is his body and nobody can force surgery upon him, but reading between the lines, if it doesn’t happen, Parnell will risk not being ready for spring training and consequently pushing the envelope to the point of further injury.

Who can’t see the prospect of him slowly being worked into shape during spring training, and perhaps forcing the issue until he hears a “pop’’ and goes on the disabled list again with surgery being the only option?

If so, then say good-bye to 2014.

Parnell said if he doesn’t have surgery soon, there will come a time when the Mets will “push for it,’’ but until then it’s only about therapy now.

“My ultimate goal is to be ready for spring training so I can be here for the team next year,’’ said Parnell, whose doctors told him it is a five-month process – and, of course, you always add one – after surgery to be ready.

Backdating from mid-January, when he would begin off-season throwing, if he were to have it tomorrow there’s already a good chance he wouldn’t be ready.

Parnell, who last pitched July 30 and went on the disabled list, Aug. 6, is practicing in wishful thinking if he believes he’ll be back this year. Parnell said he’s supposed to be re-examined next week, but after that there should be serious consideration of a second opinion if he’s to have any chance of being ready for the start of next season.

Parnell isn’t the only Mets pitcher facing surgery this winter.

Jeremy Hefner as a partial tear of the MCL in his right elbow, but is considering a second opinion. Hefner was the Mets’ hottest pitching heading into the All-Star break, but fell flat at the start of the second half and was replaced in the rotation.

Jenrry Mejia, whom the Mets projected would need surgery to remove a bone spur in this right elbow at the time he was promoted, aggravated the injury twice and went on the disabled list last weekend. He’s to have surgery within the next two weeks.

Ironically, Parnell and Hefner were among the chips the Mets were considering dealing at the trade deadline.

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