May 22

Six-Man Rotation Could Be Good For Mets, Pending Harvey’s Approval

The New York Mets are again making noise about going with a six-man rotation when Dillon Gee is activated from the disabled list. Doing so would allow them to not choose between Gee and Noah Syndergaard, Friday’s starter in Pittsburgh.

The Mets considered this before Gee was injured, but rejected it, in large part because it would have meant Matt Harvey pitching with more rest than in a normal five-man rotation.

HARVEY: The fly in the six-man ointment. (AP)

HARVEY: The fly in the six-man ointment. (AP)

However, as often is the case with the Mets, they don’t have a definitive plan. They didn’t when it came to naming a format to regulate Harvey’s innings; settling on a batting order; and determining a leadoff hitter.

I don’t have a problem with a six-man rotation, if it is implemented properly, meaning – stick with it.

The negative is less starts for Harvey and Jacob deGrom, but the flip side is they could be stronger when they do pitch.

Another positive is less starts – and more rest – for Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese. Another positive is that if Gee pitches well, which he has this year at times and in his rehab, it enables the Mets to showcase him for a possible trade by the July 31 deadline. If they do this, they can go back to the more conventional five-man rotation.

But, what if it works? What if the extra rest and extra pitcher improves the team? Remember, at one time a four-man rotation was the norm. The Mets really have nothing to lose by this, especially since it could give them an idea of what might happen next summer when they have Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz.

However, for it to work, two things must happen, 1) the Mets must give it time to develop, and 2) the starters must be on board with the change.

If one starter, and of course I’m talking about Harvey because he’s been known to make noise when he doesn’t like things.

It will be interesting to see if the Mets sacrifice the chance to better the team to appease one player.





May 13

Trading Syndergaard Or Matz Not A Good Idea

Less than 24 hours after Noah Syndergaard made his Mets’ debut, the radio call-in shows were buzzing today with talk of trading him or Steven Matz for Troy Tulowitzki, or Addison Russell, or any other hot-shot shortstop.

Personally, I don’t want Tulowitzki. He’s too expensive salary wise and in terms of prospects that would need to be dealt and has a significant injury history.



Here’s another thing, of his career numbers, how much is because of Coors Field? Yes, we’ve seen him hit at Citi Field, but how much of that was against crummy Mets’ pitching?

Syndergaard showed good things last night and I can see why teams would want him, but on this issue I agree with GM Sandy Alderson, I don’t want to give up him or Matz just yet.

There are lots of reasons why the Mets shouldn’t give up Syndergaard, most significantly is the future state of their pitching.

* Matt Harvey has pitched well coming off Tommy John surgery, but for at least the next year the Mets need to be cautious with him. They have said so themselves. Sometimes pitchers hit a wall coming off this surgery.

* Bartolo Colon will be gone after this year and most likely so will Dillon Gee. Won’t the Mets need to replace them?

* The Mets won’t get Zack Wheeler back until next July at least, and nobody knows how he will be then. Without Colon and Wheeler, I’m counting two spots that must be filled for sure at the start of next year.

* Jacob deGrom is off to a slow start, which, if it continues should make us wonder how much last year was a fluke. I like deGrom a lot, but if he continues to struggle somebody must pick up the slack.

* They’ve been trying to trade Jon Niese, who is basically a career .500 pitcher with an injury history.

* And, realistically the 5.1 innings Syndergaard gave the Mets last night isn’t enough to dust off a shelf at Cooperstown just yet. We don’t know how he and/or Matz will perform.

Also, we know the Mets’ offense has been weak and nobody can project when David Wright will return and at what level. And, because the Mets have other issues other than Wilmer Flores, they must hold onto their pitching if they are to compete this year or next.

Other teams aren’t stupid. They won’t trade the Mets a top-flight shortstop in exchange for guys like Niese, or Gee, or Flores. It won’t happen.

Consequently, the idea of trading Syndergaard or Matz isn’t something they should be considering, no matter who is on the other end of the phone line.


May 12

Composure Most Important Thing For Syndergaard

Just as they were with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, don’t look for the Mets to bring up Noah Syndergaard for a spot start. Once he’s here, unless he really spits the bit, he’s not going anywhere. Like everybody else, I’m excited to see him pitch, just as I was when Harvey and Wheeler first came up.

What it means is Dillon Gee will move to the bullpen or be traded, with the Mets having to take less than they want to move him – and save money. That much is inevitable when Gee comes off the disabled list. The Mets were so hot to trade him because they knew this day was coming. The only snap for the Mets was Gee getting hurt, otherwise they could have kept Syndergaard down for Super Two status.

noah-syndergaardWe can talk all we want about Syndergaard’s stuff and his fall-off-the-table curveball. We know from spring training, Triple-A Las Vegas and his Tweeting he has no shortage of confidence. However, his stuff and confidence will only carry him so far tonight in Wrigley Field.

The most important thing Syndergaard must take to the mound is poise. Actually, I’d like to see him get in trouble to see how he responds to adversity and pressure. That quality is what defines a great pitcher. We’ve seen it in Harvey and until recently, in Jacob deGrom. Now, I want to see it in Syndergaard.

The standard cliche for a rookie pitcher is it’s still the same game he’s been playing in the minor leagues. Not true. In the minor leagues he’s facing minor leaguers. This is the major leagues and mistakes get hit a long way.

Syndergaard must keep the ball down and get ahead in the count. That much is obvious, But, he also needs to minimize damage when he gets in trouble. He needs to find something when that curveball is missing its spot.

The distance between the rubber and the plate is the same, but everything else will be different, including the opposition, the pressure and all those eyes watching him.

Syndergaard did a lot to get here. He must do a lot more to stay.


Apr 26

Niese Still Key In Mets’ Rotation

In the first two games of this series, the focus for the Mets was on their stud pitchers Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey, but I remain intrigued with Sunday’s starter, Jon Niese.

In the pre-Harvey years, when the Mets were forced to move from Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey – wow, I hadn’t thought of him in a long time – Niese was in the driver’s seat of their rotation. Young, left-handed, and a hard thrower with a manageable contract, Niese not only was a Mets’ leader but coveted by other teams.

NIESE: Still important to Mets. (AP)

NIESE: Still important to Mets. (AP)

However, injuries – including a partial tear of his rotator cuff – sapped the effectiveness of Sunday’s starter against the Yankees. Last winter the Mets were open to trading Niese, but at 28, he’s young enough to reverse the perception of him and increase his value to the Mets for the long-term.

And, it definitely helps that he’s healthy, which only fuels his confidence.

“I haven’t been this confident in my arm in probably three years,’’ Niese said during spring training. “I feel really good. … I feel a lot stronger. My arm feels excellent.’’

That has translated to the mound, where Niese is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA – and 1-1 with a 2.05 ERA in four starts against the Yankees. He is off to the good start he hopes will fuel a comeback season. It must keep playing out this way if Niese is thinking long-term, although the math remains in his favor.

On one hand, there’s Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz waiting at Triple-A Las Vegas to push him out of the rotation. On the other, figure on Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee not coming back next season, and we won’t see Zack Wheeler until at least July.

Also, he’s still young and hard-throwing left-hander with a manageable contract (under their control for the next two seasons). In this scenario, figure on Niese returning.

However, the Mets aren’t just interested in him just holding a roster spot, but needing him to perform as he did in his last start, Tuesday against Atlanta, when he gave up a solo homer in 6.2 innings.

They will take that tonight and every night.

Apr 22

Harvey Will Pitch With Slight Ankle Sprain

Here’s why the New York Mets – despite winning ten straight games – can make you want to beat your head against a cement wall.

The person: Matt Harvey.

The issue: An injury.

The event: Harvey went to see a doctor Wednesday afternoon for consultation on a lingering foot injury.

The diagnosis: The doctors said it was a mild left ankle sprain, but before that manager Terry Collins, who apparently received his medical degree in an online medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico, said, “he’s fine, it’s nothing.’’

Collins also said Harvey pitched with it for a month and will make his start Saturday against the Yankees. After Wednesday’s 3-2 over the Braves, Collins said he didn’t even know about it until two days ago. How is that possible? How does the manager not know his best pitcher has a sprained ankle? For him to admit that is admitting he doesn’t know what is going on with his team.


Collins also said Harvey dismissed the idea of skipping the start. Of course he did, because Harvey is the one who makes those decisions. Collins never should have said Harvey would start prior to the exam, and even after should have said he would see later.

After the game Collins called it mild, but leg injuries are critical to a pitcher because it can alter mechanics and put stress on the arm, not a good thing for someone coming off Tommy John surgery.

How would Collins know it is “nothing?’’ It was obvious something enough to where Harvey had to see a doctor, which, whether it was his decision or somebody else’s, was the proper move.

When it comes to injuries, never trust management’s assertion “it is nothing,’’ and for projected missed time always bet the over.

And, for those who say they are long-time Mets fans, remember this is an area where management hasn’t done well. Don’t believe me?

That’s your choice, but kindly remember David Wright, Ike Davis, Johan Santana, Ryan Church, Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and well, need I say more?