Mar 30

Good Games From Montero And Duda Raise Questions

Two pertinent Mets’ issues surfaced in today’s 7-1 rout of the Marlins. The most urgent is the competition for a starter’s spot between Rafael Montero and Dillon Gee. The second is the idea of giving Lucas Duda a contract extension.

DUDA: Are Mets talking long-term? (AP)

DUDA: Are Mets talking long-term? (AP)

Coming on the heels of Gee’s strong outing Sunday, Montero was equally dominating today against Miami with six scoreless innings. He gave up two hits and no walks with six strikeouts.

The assumption is Gee would get the starter job, which is what Terry Collins said after Zack Wheeler’s season-ending elbow injury. However, the Mets have dragged their feet on making an official announcement, and now there are reports they are trying again to deal Gee.

Considering the fragility of starting pitching, and clear questions surrounding their bullpen – of which Montero would be more effective – the prudent decision would be to commit to Gee in the rotation.

As for the 29-year-old Duda, there are reports of a four-year, $31-million contract. Duda is coming off a 30-homer, 92-RBI season and will make $4.2 million this year. He went deep today and drove in five runs, so you might think Duda’s agents at the Beverly Hills Sports Council will be putting in a call to GM Sandy Alderson soon.

Reportedly, Duda’s people are interested in talking this week, but don’t want to negotiate during the season. The Mets don’t operate well when under the gun like that, which is probably a good thing.

Normally, I’d be in for signing Duda long term, but you must remember he’s only had one good season. I’m not sure one good year is worth a four-year deal.

If he does it again, then sure, but the price will go up.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s notebook.

Mar 26

With Urgent Questions Simmering, Why Still The Mystery With Gee?

Why do the Mets insist on going the mystery route when it comes to announcing roles in its pitching staff?

When Zack Wheeler was lost for the season it was announced Dillon Gee would assume his spot in the rotation. Manager Terry Collins said as such, but at the same time pitching coach Dan Warthen said it was an open competition between Gee and Rafael Montero.

GEE: C'mon, make it official.

GEE: C’mon, make it official.

So much for being on the same page.

It should be a slam dunk because Gee has limited experience pitching out of the bullpen while Montero has worked both as a starter and reliever. Then yesterday Collins flipped it so Montero would pitch against the Yankees. After the game, Collins told reporters in Tampa: “I’ve seen Dillon Gee pitch big games. I don’t need to see him pitch against the New York Yankees.’’

If anything, that sounded like an endorsement for Gee.

However, after Montero’s strong performance, Collins said he earned a spot on the staff, but wouldn’t say in what capacity.

Again, why is this so difficult?

Montero has pitched out of the pen, something Gee hasn’t for years. If anything, with little less than two weeks before the start of the season, I would figure Collins knows he has a starting five, but should realize the holes in the back end of the bullpen is a greater priority.

Revealing the rotation order and role for Montero should be among the easiest of things for Collins to decide as there seem to be more pressing questions:

Will Daniel Murphy and/or Wilmer Flores open the season on the disabled list?

Will reliever Vic Black be ready for Opening Day?

Will Niese get his mechanics ironed out?

Who will be the leadoff hitter?

Is there a left-handed reliever out there, anywhere?

So, with at least five significant questions that must be answered immediately, the Mets are spinning their wheels – at least that’s the public perception – on Gee and Montero, which should be givens.

 

Mar 25

Mets’ Outfield Alignment Set

In somewhat of a surprise, manager Terry Collins announced today Michael Cuddyer would play left field and Curtis Granderson would be in right.

The decision is somewhat of a surprise because the presumption was Cuddyer – with 854 career games in right and just three in left – would play the position where he was most comfortable.

However, this makes sense in the respect right field is tricky in Citi Field, and Granderson handled it well.

That Cuddyer has been deaf in his left ear since he was 11 is not an issue, said Collins. Cuddyer can still see and will be able to see the dugout waving him into position.

However, it could be a concern if he and center field Juan Lagares converge on a ball.

WHEELER SURGERY: Zack Wheeler underwent successful Tommy John surgery this morning at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.

Dr. David Altchek performed the surgery and Wheeler is expected to be out until June of 2016.

ON DECK: Who is in better position to win sooner, the Mets or Yankees?

Mar 24

Mets Matters: Injury Updates; Gee Solid In Loss

GM Sandy Alderson said he’s optimistic Daniel Murphy could be ready for Opening Day.

Murphy has been down with a pulled right hamstring – an injury that always takes longer to recover than is initially diagnosed – since March 19. At first, it was described as tightness. It was then revised to be a pulled muscle with an estimated down period of one to two weeks.

mets-matters logoAlderson told reporters he based his thinking on, “the results of the MRI, the doctors’ evaluation and just how Daniel himself feels.’’

Murphy is scheduled to resume baseball activities Wednesday.

Meanwhile, shortstop Wilmer Flores resumed light activities today and manager Terry Collins said he might be able to play in an exhibition game Thursday.

Flores fouled a ball off his left foot and sustained a severe bruise. He had been wearing a walking boot but stopped using it.

Also, reliever Vic Black is down with weakness in his throwing shoulder and the probability is he’ll open the season on the disabled list. The Mets are making no pretenses he’ll be ready by Opening Day.

Will any of these guys be ready by Opening Day? Remember, when it comes to Mets’ injuries, always take the over.

GEE SOLID IN LOSS: Dillon Gee continues to impress for the Mets, who still won’t announce when he’ll make his first start of the season.

Gee threw four scoreless innings in Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to the Houston Astros at Tradition Field. The Mets held a late lead, but Carlos Torres gave up two eighth-inning runs. Torres, who is penciled into one of the Mets’ seven bullpen slots, has a 5.87 ERA this spring.

David Wright hit his third homer for the Mets, who are 12-10 this spring.

WHEELER SURGERY TOMORROW: Zack Wheeler will undergo Tommy John surgery Wednesday in New York. Club physician David Altchek will perform the surgery.

Wheeler will miss this season and isn’t expected to pitch again until June of 2016.

UP NEXT: The Mets travel to Tampa Wednesday to face the Yankees. Rafael Montero will get the start. The Mets said Lucas Duda, Travis d’Arnaud and Juan Lagares would make the trip.

Mar 23

What’s The Point Of Mets Announcing Partial Rotation?

What is it with the Mets that they can’t go all the way with certain things? Manager Terry Collins announced his rotation for the season-opening three-game series at Washington, but stopped there. How difficult is it to name the full rotation? And, more to the point, if Matt Harvey is ready for the season, then why not go ahead and name him the Opening Day starter?

COLON: Opening Day starter.

COLON: Opening Day starter.

I endorsed Bartolo Colon earlier, but that was because said it wouldn’t be Harvey. He’s regarded as the staff’s ace and so much has been made of his return. Given that, if he’s ready physically, then why not give him the ball in the season’s first game?

I heard the reasoning is to start him in the season’s third game, which would begin a couple of hours earlier and with it the likelihood of warmer weather. Seriously, if the game time is that big a deal where it might be a few degrees earlier, that suggests concern. If that is the case, then is Harvey really ready?

The starters for the Nationals series are Colon, Jacob deGrom and Harvey. That leaves Dillon Gee and Jon Niese for the first two games against the Braves. Collins did say deGrom would start the season opener at Citi Field.

Collins’ rationale for going with Colon was what I pointed out several weeks ago: his 15 victories; 200-plus innings; and the veteran presence to handle the big stage.

Well, all that was there two weeks ago, but in the interim the Mets hinted at deGrom, Colon and Zack Wheeler while saying no about Harvey.

I would have gone with – assuming everybody is healthy – Harvey, Colon, Niese, deGrom and Gee. I like the idea of slotting the lefthander in the middle of the rotation. Plus, with Harvey’s innings that much an issue, I prefer an innings-eater to follow him to take pressure off the bullpen.

However, the bottom-line reason for not liking the partial announcement is it smacks of indecision. If Collins isn’t ready to name the full rotation, then wait.