Sep 12

Where Is Mets’ Opening Day Lineup?

All teams evolve throughout a season, but the New York Mets’ transformation in 2013 has been staggering, with only second baseman Daniel Murphy and shortstop Ruben Tejada were in last night’s lineup at those positions. Lucas Duda started, but at a different position.

Here’s what has happened to the 2013 lineup in comparison to the team the Mets ran out there in Wednesday night’s 3-0 loss to Washington. Three starters plus the pitcher remain on the team; three were traded; and two are on the disabled list.

Colin Cowgill, CF: Was going to start after beating out Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker’s injury.  Cowgill was the starter for roughly a week after he was demoted and eventually traded. Den Dekker started last night, but Juan Lagares could eventually win the role next year if he’s more consistent offensively.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Started, but hit third last night. He’s been all over the top of the order. A slump followed a hot start, but he’s back up to .282. The Mets, however, aren’t enamored by his .316 on-base percentage.

David Wright, 3B: Entered the season after a contract extension and being named captain. He’s lived up to all that but is currently on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Wright vows he’ll return.

Ike Davis, 1B: Slumped horribly before being sent to Triple-A Las Vegas. Eventually wound up hitting .204 with nine homers. There was considerable speculation the Mets would not tender him a contract, but he’ll get another chance to next season.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Signed for depth, but wound up leading the team in homers and could be its MVP. Eventually traded to Pittsburgh, where he could see the playoffs. Good for him. Lagares was in right last night, and could stay there if den Dekker develops consistency at the plate.

Lucas Duda, 1B: This guy just can’t play the outfield. Has improved his plate presence as evidenced by a .353 on-base percentage, but has not produced for power. Will compete with Davis for the first base job next spring. Eric Young was acquired at mid-season and became the Mets’ tenth, and final, leadoff hitter. But, for all his speed, he must do better than a .318 on-base percentage.

John Buck, C: Carried the Mets offensively in April before tailing. However, he was consistent all year behind the plate and has to get some credit for the development of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. His status was doomed with the promotion of Travis d’Arnaud, who has struggled at .152. Traded along with Byrd to Pittsburgh.

Ruben Tejada, SS: Played brutally in the beginning before going on the DL. Omar Quintanilla more than adequately filled the void. Tejada is back, but the Mets openly question his work ethic and commitment. He has a lot to prove, and trading for a veteran in the winter isn’t out of the question.

Jon Niese, LHP: Was the de facto ace and Opening Day starter because of the season-ending shoulder injury of Johan Santana. Niese developed shoulder problems after back-to-back cold weather starts in Minnesota and Colorado. As Niese labored and eventually went on the disabled list. Niese could end up being the Opening Day starter in 2014 with Harvey’s injury.

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Sep 11

Mets Wrap: Zack Wheeler Shows Mettle In Defeat

The New York Mets believe Zack Wheeler will be an anchor in their rotation for a long time to come. He took the loss against Washington Wednesday night, but showed more than enough of the right stuff to say this is going to be a stud pitcher to build around.

Easily, the most important thing Wheeler demonstrated was poise under pressure. He pitched out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the first; escaped a runner on second and one-out threat in the fourth; and got out of a runners on the corners with two outs problem in the seventh.

WHEELER: Dealing big time. (AP)

WHEELER: Dealing big time. (AP)

It was great to see Wheeler challenge hitters with his fastball, especially inside. And the control issues he had earlier, well, just one walk.

“This guy competes on the mound,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “With his stuff, in first inning, he did a great job getting out of that jam. I’m impressed with the way Zack Wheeler has pitched.’’

Wheeler made one bad pitch, that being a slider left over the plate Ryan Zimmerman crushed for a homer in the sixth. It was the first homer he gave up in 36 innings, remarkable for a rookie.

Vic Black, who could get a look at the closer role in spring training if Bobby Parnell hasn’t recovered from neck surgery, gave up two runs in the eighth to make it the 3-0 final.

Offensively, the Mets managed three hits as they were shut out for the second time in this series. With the loss the Mets fell a season-low 16 games below .500. It wasn’t too long ago .500 and catching the Nationals for second-place wasn’t an unrealistic goal.

Oh, by the way, with the loss the Mets were mathematically eliminated, crushing news, I know, to those who kept on dreaming.

Once again the Mets are in full swoon mode, especially offensively, in the second half. They have lost three straight, five of their last six games, and are 2-8 so far this month.

Including the Nationals Thursday, the Mets have just four games against winning teams (three with Cincinnati) the rest of the season.

Collins didn’t say the word, but he might as well called his offense clueless.

“You have to figure out what the opposing pitcher is doing to get you out,’’ Collins said. “And you have to make adjustments.’’

Clearly, the Mets aren’t making those adjustments.

Newly-acquired Aaron Harang will start for the Mets Thursday afternoon in an effort to avoid the sweep.

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Sep 10

Mets’ Matt Harvey Wants To Avoid Surgery

Matt Harvey, the New York Mets’ best story of the season before an elbow injury sidelined him until, well, who really knows when?

Not Harvey, anyway. Harvey, speaking at an appearance at a Manhattan firehouse this afternoon along with David Wright, Zack Wheeler and CEO Jeff Wilpon, is insistent of eschewing surgery.

HARVEY: Doesn't want surgery.

HARVEY: Doesn’t want surgery.

“Everything feels fine. My arm feels great,’’ Harvey said. “I’m still very optimistic about everything. But I’m not a doctor, so we’ll see what happens.’’

Harvey is scheduled for a second opinion with Dr. James Andrews next week. Harvey said his arm feels “great,’’ but then again, he hasn’t pitched since Aug. 24 against Detroit, so it should feel good.

However, that time off hasn’t healed a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. Harvey is hoping the tear will heal itself with rest, but there exists the risk of him going into next season and tearing it worse and possibly missing all of 2015.

As it is, if Harvey opts for surgery, there is a chance he could pitch at the end of next season.

“If we do go the surgery route, having it sooner so maybe I can get back in September next year if that’s an 11-month process, that’s a possibility,’’ Harvey said. “But, like I said, we haven’t gotten that far. I’m not an M.D., so I don’t really know those answers.’’

Andrews should be able to provide those answers next week. In the interim, Harvey said he’ll talk with as many people as he can, but ultimately the decision is his.

There are no guarantees with or without surgery, but the odds might be in his favor if he takes the knife.

General manager Sandy Alderson has long projected 2014 as the year the Mets could reach competitive status because the contract of Johan Santana will be off the books and the team should have the latitude to spend this winter.

Alderson said the plan, as it should be, is to plan for 2014 without Harvey, and that includes shopping for a veteran free agent in the off-season.

The Mets might consider the Yankees’ Phil Hughes, whose style might be better acclimated to the larger Citi Field than bandbox Yankee Stadium.

Hughes, battered this season, has been demoted to the bullpen.

However, he’s healthy, and at 28, is young enough to turn it around, and the Mets could provide that opportunity.

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

Sep 09

Ike Davis Could Remain With Mets

ESPN reported the New York Mets would tender Ike Davis a contract for 2014, largely because not doing so would cost them a compensatory draft pick.

Davis is making $3.1 million this year, and through the CBA, can’t be offered anything higher than a 20 percent pay cut. Reportedly, the least Davis would make is $2.4 million, which isn’t bad for nine homers and 33 RBI.

The reason GM Sandy Alderson delayed sending Davis to Triple-A Las Vegas was because of the promise of a breakout second half, which, of course, never happened.

Non-tendering a contract would have meant no compensation, so what Alderson is doing is essentially buying an insurance policy, with the worst-case scenario being forced to endure another year of non-production.

In keeping Davis, the Mets would go into spring training of him and Lucas Duda competing for the first base job.

Currently, the Mets are about getting whatever they can, which is what they did in the John Buck-Marlon Byrd deal, their reasoning with Davis, and why, despite the foul taste it gave them, they recalled Frank Francisco.

Despite all accounts but Francisco’s, the Mets believed he dogged it during rehab, he was pitching in the major leagues Sunday.

It was a last ditch effort to showcase him to a contender desperate for bullpen help, even though Francisco would not be eligible for a postseason roster.

Francisco is owed $745-thousand for the remainder of the season, which isn’t much, but better than nothing.

METS MUSINGS: Among the Mets’ call-ups is 35-year-old pitcher Aaron Harang, who might get one or two starts to serve as an audition for a spring-training invite. Harang went 5-11 with a 5.76 ERA in 22 starts with Seattle. Harang will likely pitch Saturday in one of the games of the Mets’ doubleheader with Miami. … David Wright could be with the Mets this week, but he’s not ready to play. … RHP Matt Harvey will receive a second opinion this week from Dr. James Andrews on his elbow, and after which could decide on Tommy John surgery.

METS PROBABLES vs. Washington at Citi Field:

Tonight: RHP Carlos Torres (3-3, 2.89) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (9-6, 3.49), 7:10 p.m.

Tomorrow: RHP Dillon Gee (11-9, 3.53) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmerman (16-8, 3.30), 7:10 p.m.

Wednesday: RHP Zack Wheeler (7-4, 3.38) vs. RHP Dan Haren (8-13, 5.23), 7:10 p.m.

Thursday: LHP Jonathon Niese (6-7, 3.86) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (5-0, 0.94), 1:10 p.m.

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

Sep 07

Mets See Good In Zack Wheeler Despite Loss; Scott Rice Season Ends

The result wasn’t what the New York Mets wanted, but overall they must be pleased with what they’ve seen from Zack Wheeler this season.

Even Friday night when he walked five in five innings in a loss at Cleveland.

WHEELER: Not a kid anymore.

WHEELER: Not a kid anymore.

I thought Wheeler might have been rushed to the major leagues because he didn’t dominate at Triple-A Las Vegas, and that idea seemed to be reinforced when his control was off early. Wheeler seemed to correct the problem, but it resurfaced against the Indians.

However, after the game he told reporters his shoulder was “flying open.’’ That he understood that flaw, no doubt pointed out by pitching coach Dan Warthen, but limited the damage are positives.

What’s next for Wheeler’s development is to not only notice a mechanical issue by himself, but also be able to correct it during the game. The great ones cannot only recognize a flaw by where their pitch went, but correct in during the at-bat.

During his first two starts, the Mets went overboard in calling his pitches – perhaps in the wake of Terry Collins getting messages Wheeler was tipping his pitches – but they quickly abandoned that plan and allowed him to use his fastball.

Although the Mets will limit his innings for the remainder of the season, Wheeler, 7-4, could get another three or four starts, and should he run the table, will have won more games than Matt Harvey.

Who would have thought that in April?

Who also would have envisioned at the time that Scott Rice would still be around?

Everybody expected big things from Harvey, but Rice was easily the Mets’ most inspirational story of the season. Harvey was the given; Rice was the underdog who made good.

The 31-year-old lefty reliever toiled for 14 years in the minor leagues before hooking on with the Mets this spring. He didn’t stick because of the state of their bullpen, but because he deserved to in leading the majors with 73 appearances.

Rice was 4-5 with a 3.71 ERA, but his most important statistic was the .174 average lefties hit off him. As a lefty specialist, that’s important. Rice walked 27 and struck out 41, and could go into spring training as the lead lefty in the pen.

Rice’s season, however, ended with the news he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia and will be out for the remainder of the season.

Even so, Rice was a good Mets’ story this summer. Maybe the best.

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