May 17

Today’s Question: What Version Will Mets Get From Harvey Today?

Today’s Question: Will the real Matt Harvey, or the version he claims to be step up?

Arizona was where it all began for Harvey, who struck out 11 Diamondbacks in his major league debut late in the lost season that was 2012. He had poise that day, an explosive fastball, and above all, devastating command.

HARVEY: Who is the real Harvey? (AP)

HARVEY: Who is the real Harvey? (AP)

The Mets crowed about what they had, and they had the right. Harvey finished the year at 3-5, but with a 2.73 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.

A few short months later, Harvey masked the pain in his right forearm, and when the injury was finally revealed, he, along with coaxing of ownership, let their future start in the All-Star Game.

He was brilliant that night in Citi Field, but a few weeks later the burning in his elbow needed to be cooled by Tommy John surgery. We can gloss over the pettiness in his sparring with management about whether to have surgery, went to have it, and where he should rehab.

He fought the Mets at every turn, and when he came back in 2015 he fought with them over his innings limit.

Then there was Game 5 of the World Series.

Now, Harvey goes to the mound with a 31-31 career record and more questions than answers. Harvey goes in with a three-game losing streak and suspension on his most recent resume.

“You get to the point where you don’t sit here and say, ‘I hope I get this’ and ‘I hope I get that,’ ” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “You just send him out there and you hope he’s getting back to what Matt Harvey is. That’s what I’m looking for: improvement. That’s it.”

What is the real Matt Harvey? Well, on-the-field he’s been underachieving with average numbers. Off-the-field he’s still caught up with an arrogant sense of entitlement whose act is wearing thin.

He received no public support from his teammates, which is rare in a baseball clubhouse. That’s partly because he’s done nothing lately to prove to his teammates he’s worth the trouble.

That’s the heart of the matter.

 

May 17

Alderson Must Take Responsibility Of Mets’ Pitching Collapse

Going against Zack Greinke, it was expected the Mets’ losing streak would reach six, and this morning the fingers would start being pointed.

ALDERSON: Faces a lot of questions. (AP)

ALDERSON: Faces a lot of questions. (AP)

What didn’t happen in the Mets’ 5-4 loss to Arizona was another bullpen meltdown. If you want to call it a moral victory, go for it. I looked for moral victories in the standings and the only thing I could were the regular ones, which have them six games under .500 and nine games behind Washington.

But, wasn’t this team supposed to be a World Series contender if not win the whole thing? They sure were, because many; including GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets possessed the game’s best pitching.

I never bought into that because it simply wasn’t true. How could it be if the vaunted five of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler had never started a complete cycle in the rotation?

How could it be if there isn’t a 20-game winner among the group?

How could it be if they only have two with at least 30 victories (deGrom 32-23) and Harvey (31-31), with Syndergaard (24-18), Wheeler (20-18) and Matz (13-8) to follow? That’s not greatness, that’s potential.

How could it be, if four entered the season coming off significant surgery, and a fifth – Syndergaard – currently on the 60-day DL?

Wishful thinking is nice to have, but building on it is like a house of cards, capable of collapsing at the slightest nudge or breeze.

The Mets tried to build a group of back-ups, but Seth Lugo is on the DL, Robert Gsellman needs be optioned or sent to the bullpen to work on his mechanic, and Rafael Montero can’t find the plate.

New acquisition Tommy Milone was passable tonight, but you don’t win on passable. The best thing Milone did was work into the sixth, which was followed by Paul Sewald (1.1 innings), Fernando Salas (0.2 innings) and Jerry Blevins (0.1) not allowing a run.

The pen worked just 2.1 innings, but most nights it goes three or four, if not longer.

When fingers are pointed, they are initially directed at manager Terry Collins, but that’s too easy. It’s also too easy to blame pitching coach Dan Warthen. In finding out who is responsible for the Mets’ pitching problems, we must look at the nature of the injuries, and who acquiesced in the handling of Harvey and Syndergaard.

That would be general manager Sandy Alderson.

 

May 09

Today’s Question: Any Leftover Feelings By Wheeler For Giants?

At one time, Zack Wheeler was the hot property of the San Francisco Giants, destined to join a rotation of Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. But, to return to the World Series in 2011, the Giants needed a big bat.

That turned out to be Carlos Beltran, and prior to Noah Syndergaard, that was GM Sandy Alderson’s biggest deal.

Wheeler is 1-1 in three starts lifetime against his former team, but some players have long memories when it comes to being traded, so, other getting the Mets going again, what’s in his motivational tank?

In his last start, May 4 at Atlanta, he allowed one run in three innings before the game was eventually washed away. If you’re thinking Citi Field is a motivator, it could be in the opposite fashion. Wheeler is 6-12 lifetime, including 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA this year.

 

 

 

 

May 08

Mets To Protect Harvey With Friday Return

The Mets are thinking about Friday as a return to the mound for Matt Harvey. He will return to the ballpark tomorrow to make his apologies and pitch again Friday when the Mets are in Milwaukee – away from the prying microphones and cameras that would besiege him at Citi Field.

HARVEY: Looking at Friday. (AP)

HARVEY: Looking at Friday. (AP)

It seemed logical the Mets should start him Wednesday afternoon over Rafael Montero, who can’t find the plate with a GPS, or recently-acquired Tommy Milone.

Instead, this is just another example of the Mets massaging Harvey’s fragile ego; do it in Milwaukee to spare him the boos he’d undoubtedly hear in New York.

C’mon, admit it, if you were going to be at Citi Field Wednesday, part of you would want to stand up and vent your anger at Harvey, the same anger GM Sandy Alderson finally did.

After acquiescing to Harvey’s pettiness and demands since 2013 – from hiding pain in his forearm that eventually lead to Tommy John surgery, to complaining where he would do his rehab, to his innings fiasco in 2015, to missing a World Series workout because he got caught in traffic and it was later discovered he was out partying the night before, to pitching a fit in the dugout to stay in Game 5 of the World Series he eventually kicked away – Alderson finally had enough.

“We have a policy here,” Collins said of Harvey’s for an unexcused absence Saturday. “I thought it was the right thing to do. I know it’s dramatic, but I think any team in baseball would have probably reacted very similarly. And it wasn’t just Matt Harvey. Anybody in that room that misses a day and nobody knows about it, we’ve got to do the same thing.”

Harvey said he developed a migraine headache after golfing and there was a miscommunication of explaining his absence that the Mets weren’t buying.

I’m not either, because how could he not have Alderson’s cell number? Or, Collins? Or trainer Ray Ramirez?

If we’re venturing guesses, I think him being in Ottawa watching the Rangers is as good as any.

Anyway, before Harvey throws his first pitch, he’ll have some groveling to do with his teammates tomorrow afternoon.

“I know one thing about our society: You make a mistake, you stand up, be accountable and move on,” Collins said. “He needs to address the guys. We’ve got to get this behind us. However he wants to go about doing that, I’ll sign on for it.

“We have a good clubhouse. Understand, you’re never going to have 25 that all like each other. But they respect each other and that’s all I want.”

Harvey may have lost that respect and has a long way to go to earn it back.

Apr 03

New Season Brings High Expectations For Mets

Talk about your mixed metaphors for this Mets’ season: I woke this morning to the sounds of birds chirping, but when I looked out the window there were still patches of snow on the ground. The sounds of spring and the sites of winter.

So, what will it be for the Mets? Will there be a third straight playoff appearance or will they sputter and stay home in October? I’ve read in several places where they’ll return to the World Series and in many others they’ll be frustrated.

SYNDERGAARD: High expecattions. FOX)

SYNDERGAARD: High expecattions. FOX)

“You have to embrace it,” manager Terry Collins said of the expectations swirling around his team. “The expectations are what they are. We have a room full of guys who have won and who expect to win.”

There are two keys to winning: staying healthy and getting strong starting pitching. If that happens they’ll be right up there and contend with Washington. Are they better than the Nationals? Potentially, they are, but they have a multitude of issues and concerns.

There’s the bullpen that will be without Jeurys Familia for the first 15 games. There’s defense, including Jose Reyes getting a full season at third base. There’s Yoenis Cespedes and whether the security of a four-year contract will help or hinder him. And, perhaps as important as anything is their offense, especially hitting with runners in scoring position.

Above all else, the key is for their starters to stay healthy. Four of them – Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler are coming off surgery. Matz opens the season on the disabled list and after a sluggish start, Harvey seemed to close spring training on a high note.

Of all the Mets’ pitchers, the highest expectations are that of Opening Day starter Noah Syndergaard, who, if he stays healthy, has the ability and stuff to win 20 games and win the Cy Young Award. He can be that dominant. Syndergaard’s primary issues are: 1) the effectiveness of his change-up, 2) whether the bone spur that bothered him on-and-off last season, and 3) his ability to prevent runners from running wild against him (48 stolen bases when he was on the mound last year).

So many things must happen for a team to reach, and win, a World Series. The Mets have the potential pieces to make that happen.

Thanks, and wishing you all a great season of watching.