Apr 12

It Will Take Pitching To Continue This Ride

There has been a lot to like about the Mets’ start, specifically their 10-1 record. I never expected this. Nobody did. But, it is early in the season. There are a lot of games left to be played.

As much as many of you would like to, it’s too early to bury the Yankees. It’s also too early to be thinking about anything past this weekend’s series against the Brewers.

SYNDERGAARD: Needs to go longer. (SNY)

SYNDERGAARD: Needs to go longer. (SNY)

A lot can happen between now and October, and it all won’t go as smoothly as they have over the past two weeks. There are slumps, and injuries, and the Washington Nationals taking off.

All that stuff will take place, or it might not. It is possible all that went right will continue to go right.

The Mets will go as far as their pitching takes them and so far it has been good, but only Zack Wheeler on Wednesday, is the only one to pitch seven full innings. That needs to change to save the bullpen. All of their starters have run into that one terrible inning when they throw between 20 and 30 pitches, and that includes Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.

Syndergaard went overboard lifting weights because he wanted to be strong to last longer in games. It took a partially-torn lat muscle to convince Syndergaard that was the wrong approach. The ability to last longer in games stems from improved command. Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland have done a terrific job as evidenced by 117 strikeouts and only 36 walks, and a 1.10 staff WHIP. If that trend continues the Mets should be in good shape.

As for Syndergaard, he has thrown 267 pitches in his three starts, that’s 89 pitches per start, which is way too many if he is to last more than six innings.

DeGrom has worked six innings twice, but Matt Harvey and Steven Matz have not worked past the fifth.

The bullpen,  notably Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, have picked up the slack. The rest of the bullpen, including Hansel Robles, has been exceptional.

However, the innings can accumulate, and it is up to the starters, to work the sixth and into the seventh.

That is how this ride will to continue.

Jan 01

My Hall Of Fame Ballot

I always wait until the last minute before submitting my Hall of Fame ballot. I like to take my time to study the names, consider the numbers and strain to remember games in which I saw them play. There’s just so much to consider.

Not that any one play, or game, or even season matters. It’s about careers, and to my way of thinking, dominant and clean careers. I have no problem with “compilers,’’ players who amassed their numbers because of lengthy careers. After all, players such as Don Sutton and Carl Yastrzemski had to be pretty good to win 300 games or get 3,000 hits.

CHIPPER: He got my vote. (Braves)

CHIPPER: He got my vote. (Braves)

I do have a problem with those accused of using steroids and didn’t need Joe Morgan’s email to convince me. The essence of sports is for the viewers and opposing players to believe what they are watching and whom they are competing against is true.

That’s not possible when players cheat.

So, if a player fails a drug test, is named on the Mitchell Report, or is accused on the record by a player, coach or manager, I look at that as confirmation of steroid usage. It’s not exactly an admission, but it will have to be enough for me to vote no.

My choices are:

Chipper Jones: More than simply a Met killer, he was an eight-time All-Star and a cornerstone on all those Braves teams that reached the playoffs year after year after year. He had 468 career homers, third behind Hall of Fame switch-hitters Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray.

Jim Thome: What’s not to like about his 612 homers, .402 on-base percentage and .554 slugging percentage, especially when it is done cleanly? He’s a no-brainer to me.

Vladimir Guerrero: I didn’t vote for Guerrero, but only because I voted for Lee Smith, who was in the final year of his eligibility. My thinking was Guerrero would have nine more years on the ballot to make it. But, he was named on 71.7 percent of the ballots, and I think he’ll make it this season.

Mike Mussina: I covered Mussina both with the Orioles and the Yankees, and always regarded him as a money pitcher. He pitched for 18 seasons and won at least 15 games in 11 of them. Mussina won 270 games and could have won 300 if he played another two or three seasons. He had plenty of gas left in his tank as he won 20 games for the only time in his career and pitched 200 innings in the final year of his career. He also had a 1.19 career WHIP and a 3.58 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.

Trevor Hoffman: I’m of the belief relievers matter and they all don’t have to be as good as Mariano Rivera. I firmly believe it Hoffman were on the Yankees instead of Rivera they would have still won those World Series.

Edgar Martinez: Being a DH shouldn’t disqualify a player from consideration. It’s a valid baseball position and shouldn’t devalue a player’s candidacy. He has a career slash line of .310/.410/.510, one of only 14 players in history to do so, and nine of them are in the Hall of Fame.

Fred McGriff: If he gets in, it will likely be from the Veterans Committee. With 493 homers – seven shy from what used to be an automatic ticket – he should be a shoo-in. There’s never been a hint of impropriety. He’s a testament to doing it the right way.

Omar Vizquel: Defense is also a part of the game, but often overlooked by the new age stats. But, if Ozzie Smith is a Hall of Famer, then so is Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glove Award winner. Vizquel was far from an easy out with 2,877 career hits and a .272 batting average with a .336 on-base percentage.

Aug 13

Mets Matters: Wheeler Should Be Shut Down; Consider Papelbon

The Mets won’t see Zack Wheeler this season as his comeback gets hit with setback after setback. He has persistent soreness in his right elbow and will be examined by orthopedic surgeon James Andrews.

The prudent decision would be to forget him for this season, give him a closely monitored conditioning and throwing program in the offseason and start again next spring.

mets-matters logoIt is time to shut him down.

The original plan was for Wheeler to be activated before the All-Star break and replaced in the rotation by Bartolo Colon.

Wheeler threw an inning in a rehab start last Saturday, which started the clock for him to be activated the first week in September.

He obviously isn’t throwing and the wonder is what he’ll bring to the table if anything when he’s activated. That begs the issue of whether they should just shut him down.

INTERESTING POSSIBILITY: The Mets say they are interested in acquiring another reliever. This afternoon the Nationals released Jonathan Papelbon.

The move seemed inevitable after the Nationals acquired closer Mark Melancon from Pittsburgh two weeks ago.

Papelbon is having a miserable season, ranking a league-worst among relievers in ERA, WHIP and strikeouts-to-walks ratio and he’s not considered a great clubhouse presence, although he was right to call out Bryce Harper last year.

Washington manager Dusty Baker said of Papelbon: “It wasn’t a real fit anymore.’’

If the Mets need a warm body, what will it hurt? Perhaps a change of scenery could help. Stranger things have happened and the situation is getting dire for the Mets.

ROSTER MOVES: Jose Reyes was activated from the disabled list. He’ll leadoff and play shortstop. The Mets also promoted pitcher Gabriel Ynoa. Logan Verrett and Matt Reynolds were demoted.

INJURY UPDATES: The plan is to activate Yoenis Cespedes from the disabled list (strained quad) on Thursday. He will play in a rehab game Monday. … Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera could get in a rehab game Tuesday.

A NEW LINEUP … AGAIN: The Mets will field their 92nd lineup tonight in their 116th game.

Reyes, SS

Curtis Granderson, LF

Neil Walker, 2B

Jay Bruce, RF

James Loney, 1B

Wilmer Flores, 3B

Alejandro De Aza, CF

Travis d’Arnaud, C

deGrom, RP

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Oct 02

Will Harvey Have Same Post-Surgery Results As Strasburg?

Really late today. Physical therapy and doctor’s appointments all day. Sorry folks.

t’s only been two games, but I am getting excited about the playoffs. I can see the Angels cutting the Royals’ excitement, but I can also see the Giants advancing.

STRASBURG: Can Harvey duplicate him after surgery?

STRASBURG: Can Harvey duplicate him after surgery?

San Francisco has good pitching and finds a way to win. Not sold on the Nationals at all. Something about that team that says: “Stay away from these guys.’’

When it comes to the Nationals, the Mets would do themselves good if they take a good, long look at Stephen Strasburg, today’s starter against the Giants.

In 2010, Strasburg hurt his shoulder and then his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2011, but only pitched 24 innings.

The following season, he tore up the major leagues, going 15-6 before his innings were cut at 159.1.

Washington made an early exit that season and in the subsequent, but the Nationals were criticized for shutting down Strasburg as they projected the aura the playoffs were a given. It alienated a lot of people in the sport.

Strasburg’s strong season in 2012 could have been the result of being shut down, but that’s speculation and the Mets can’t assume Matt Harvey will come back just as strong because everyone’s arm is different.

Sometimes, the arm responds after the first year following surgery. Sometimes, it doesn’t. Strasburg was 8-9 while working 183 innings. This year, he was 14-11 in 215 innings over 34 starts.

The 34 starts, 242 strikeouts, and 1.25 WHIP are positive stats and appear to have vindicated the Nationals.

The Mets would take those numbers and his 2012 record for Harvey. They can only hope.

Sep 09

Not Concerned About Syndergaard’s Feelings

One of these days, Noah Syndergaard might develop into a franchise pitcher. Then again, like thousands of other live arms to try, he might be bust out. Nobody can say for certain.

NOAH: Not ready for prime time.

NOAH: Not ready for prime time.

Regardless, it was no surprise to learn he would not be part of the September call-ups. And, his numbers weren’t worthy of a promotion. He’s 9-7 with a 4.60 and 1.48 WHIP indicate there’s more work to be done. I have no issue with Syndergaard not being promoted; especially considering we knew it wasn’t going to happen this year.

Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler were in similar situations and weren’t elevated to delay their arbitration eligibility. What I have a problem with is Syndergaard not paying attention to what happened with Harvey and Wheeler before him and not draw a similar conclusion.

Not only won’t we see Syndergaard this year, but there’s no way he’ll be in the 2015 Opening Day rotation. The earliest we’ll see him is the beginning of June.

With Sandy Alderson saying there won’t be a splurge in the free-agent market and the team wants to hold onto its young pitching, there’s not room for Syndergaard in April. Next season’s rotation to start the season will be Bartolo Colon, Harvey, Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and Jon Niese. Syndergaard at the start just won’t happen, and the only disappointment is him not realizing his situation.