Musings

d’Arnaud is d’Man

With all the hysteria following Yoenis Cespedes, and the recent tarring and feathering of Matt Harvey, it’s easy to forget there are other players on the Mets who are making major contributions. Chief among those players is Travis d’Arnaud

When the Mets obtained him, he had a reputation of being a good hitting catcher. While his career had a rough start, he fixed his swing in AAA, and he’s been raking ever since. This year he’s hitting .287/.364/.540. These are tremendous numbers for any position, let alone for a catcher. 

Speaking of catching, d’Arnaud continues to help his pitching staff. He remains one of the best in the game at pitch framing. For all the talk about innings limits and pitch counts, this ability cannot be ignored. It’s a tremendous skill not only to get a strike called a strike, but also to get a ball called a strike. It was one of the hallmarks of those 90’s Braves teams. 

The knock on him has always been that he’s injury prone, and he’s done nothing to dispel that this year with two long DL stints. However, the main fear with him was concussions, and he hasn’t had one this year. Furthermore, it looks like his weakness can turn out to be his strength this year. He’s only played 48 out of a possible 139 games. This means he’ll be fresh for October. 

When he’s played d’Arnaud has been tremendous. If not for Cespedes, we might be calling him d’Man. There’s nothing else you could ask him to do right now that he’s not doing, except maybe choosing the right wine to go with the post-game meal. If you think about it, with his play at both sides of the plate, he deserves that moniker. 

d’Arnaud is d’Man. 

Niese Needs to Frame His Excuses Better

On Monday, Jon Niese had the biggest start of his career, and he was terrible. He had one of his typical meltdowns after a call didn’t go his way. However, we finally got a glimpse into his mindset:

So, nothing is his fault. It’s not him at all. It was Travis d’Arnaud‘s fault. First, he could’ve shook d’Arnaud off. Second, d’Arnaud helps Niese immensely with his poor pitch framing. This juvenile behavior is nothing new for Niese. Only this time, Niese couldn’t be further from the truth. 

d’Arnaud has an excellent reputation for pitch framing. Basically speaking, if d’Arnaud is getting you the strike there, it wasn’t a strike, or maybe, just maybe the umpire blew the call. Whatever the pitch is, Niese had to execute it, and yet again, he failed to do so. Niese sure doesn’t consider this when he’s yelling and screaming at d’Arnaud. 

Additionally, pointing to d’Arnaud is a red herring. Niese has been terrible since the All Star Break. He has a 5.75 ERA and a 1.456 WHIP. From August on, he has a 6.58 ERA with a 1.512 WHIP. Has the d’Arnaud caught him in all of his bad starts?  Of course not. Niese is just pitching poorly, and he’s angry with the world. 

The way he’s going, he only has a few more starts left before watching the playoffs from the bench. I wonder who he will have to blame then. 

Who’s In, Who’s Out?

After last night’s big homerun, I wanted to write a post about Kirk Nieuwenhuis‘ chances of making the postseason roster. I then realized such conversation is premature without first discussing who is definitely going to be on the roster, and what the roster needs will be. 

Please note this list assumes all injured players will be healed and ready for the playoffs. And yes, I’m taking Matt Harvey at his word. So without further ado, here’s my best approximation:

Position Players

  1. Travis d’Arnaud
  2. Kevin Plawecki
  3. Lucas Duda
  4. Wilmer Flores
  5. Daniel Murphy
  6. Ruben Tejada
  7. Juan Uribe
  8. David Wright
  9. Kelly Johnson
  10. Yoenis Cespedes
  11. Michael Cuddyer
  12. Curtis Granderson
  13. Juan Lagares
  14. Michael Conforto

Pitchers

  1. Matt Harvey
  2. Jacob deGrom
  3. Bartolo Colon
  4. Noah Syndergaard
  5. Jeurys Familia
  6. Tyler Clippard
  7. Addison Reed
  8. Hansel Robles

While typically an MLB team carries 12 pitchers, that number is usually reduced to 11 relievers. That means there’s three spots open for pitchers like Sean GilmartinDario AlvarezCarlos Torres (if healthy), Erik GoeddelLogan VerrettJon Niese, and of course Steven Matz. Notice, I did not put Bobby Parnell and Eric O’Flaherty on the list. If all the position players make the list, there’s only room for 11 pitchers anyway. 

With an injury, like Cuddyer’s, the decision will come down between Nieuwenhuis, Eric Young, Jr., and yes, Eric Campbell

The Mets have tough decisions to make. They have about a month of tryouts. So far, Gilmartin, Alvarez, and Nieuwenhuis have made their cases. Other players have their opportunities as well. It’s nice having this conversation instead of talking about next year. 

The Future Begins Now for Herrera

Today, the Mets presumably made their last round of call-ups. The players getting called up are Johnny MonellLogan Verrett, and Dilson Herrera. Monell is just a warm body. Verrett seems to be joining the rotation. What’s Herrera’s role?

Honestly, I have no idea. The second base options right now are Daniel MurphyKelly JohnsonWilmer Flores [standing ovation], and to a lesser extent, Juan Uribe. There’s no room there. Eric Young, Jr. is the speed guy, and frankly he’s got more versatility. In fact, he’s also a 2B option. So again, why is Herrera here?

There are a few plausible options. The first is rewarding his season in the minors where he hit .331/.384/.515. Maybe the Mets are concerned about Murphy’s quad, and they want Herrera to stay active in case he’s needed. Maybe he’s just a pinch hitter in case the Mets have the need in an extra inning game. 

My thought is that he’s here because he’s the second baseman of the future. The Mets want to expose him to a pennant race. The aforementioned 2B options?  None of them have a contract beyond this year, except Flores, who’s also a SS.  If he gets ABs, great. If not, that’s fine as well. The idea is to let him soak it all in from the atmosphere to the advice from the veterans. 

After a brief tenure with the Mets last year and earlier this year, it appears the future may finally be now for Herrera. 

Matt Harvey Timeline

I’m presenting the following Matt Harvey timeline with no interpretation or commentary. 

  1. July 16, 2013: Harvey starts the All Star Game at Citi Field
  2. August 2013: Harvey makes a few starts with some elbow problems 
  3. August 24, 2013: Harvey roughed up by Tigers, describes himself as “getting pretty tired.”
  4. August 25, 2013: Harvey informs Mets he’s having an abnormal amount of forearm discomfort. 
  5. August 26, 2013: MRI reveals Harvey has a UCL tear. Harvey reveals he wants to avoid surgery. 
  6. October 4, 2013: Harvey elects to have Tommy John surgery. 
  7. October 22, 2013: Dr. James Andrews performs successful Tommy John surgery on Harvey. 
  8. January 23, 2014: Harvey announces he wants to pitch during the 2014 season. 
  9. March 19, 2014: Harvey announces he wants to rehab with the team and not in Florida. 
  10. March 25, 2014: Mets announce Harvey will split rehab between NY and FL. 
  11. August 1, 2014: Harvey begins throwing from a mound (slightly ahead of schedule) and states he wants to pitch for the Mets if they make the playoffs. 
  12. September 4, 2014: Mets announce they will not let Harvey go 100% until the 2015 Spring Training. 
  13. September 2014: Harvey is shut down and will not appear in a game. 
  14. November 2014: after taking a month off, Harvey begins throwing on flat ground and long tossing. 
  15. February 9, 2015: Harvey reports early to Spring Training. 
  16. February 20, 2015: Alderson announces 200 innings limit for Harvey including playoffs. 
  17. March 3, 2015: Mets set rotation so Harvey starts the second home game, which the Mets admit makes good marketing sense. 
  18. March 6, 2015: Harvey throws 25 pitches in his first Spring Training start. 
  19. April 8, 2015: Harvey beats the Nationals in his first regular season start since 2013.
  20. April 9, 2015: Collins announces Harvey will be limited to 190 innings. 
  21. April 14, 2015: Harvey wins in his return to Citi Field. 
  22. April 17, 2015: Mets announce they will move to a six man rotation with Rafael Montero to keep Harvey fresh. 
  23. April 28, 2015: Montero starts in a loss to the Marlins. 
  24. April 30, 2015: Montero placed on the DL. 
  25. May 25, 2015: Harvey experiencing a dead arm. 
  26. June 3, 2015Dillon Gee comes off the DL, and the Mets announce they’re moving to a six man rotation. 
  27. June 7, 2015: Gee is ineffective and is moved to the bullpen. Collins announces he’s abandoning the six man rotation. 
  28. June 15, 2015: Gee is designated for assignment. 
  29. June 26, 2015: Mets announce they are calling up Steven Matz and will be going back to the six man rotation. 
  30. June 28, 2015: Matz makes his major league debut. 
  31. June – July 2015: Matz informs Mets he has “stiffness underneath his left armpit.”
  32. July – August 2015: Harvey sees a dip in velocity in all of his pitches. 
  33. July 3, 2015: Dan Warthen deems Matz fine after watching a bullpen session. 
  34. July 4, 2015: Harvey complains the six man rotation takes him out of his rhythm after a 4-3 loss to the Dodgers. 
  35. July 5, 2015: Matz pitches six shutout innings in win over Dodgers. 
  36. July 6, 2015: Terry Collins tells Harvey to get over the six man rotation. 
  37. July 9. 2015: Matz has lat injury which requires him to be shut down for three weeks. 
  38. July 12, 2015: Collins announces Mets are abandoning the six man rotation due to Matz injury. 
  39. August 2015: Scott Boras contacts Mets with concerns over Harvey’s innings pitched. 
  40. August 21, 2015: it’s reported that Harvey has no objection to the Mets skipping one or two of his starts. 
  41. August 23, 2015: The Mets skip Harvey in the rotation, and Logan Verrett gets the win over the Rockies. 
  42. September 2, 2015: Mets announce they will skip a second Harvey start. 
  43. September 3, 2015: Harvey is forced to leave a game with dehydration and weakness in a win over the Phillies. 
  44. September 4, 2015: Jon Heyman reports Scott Boras informed the Mets that Harvey has a strict 180 innings limit. 
  45. September 5, 2015: Harvey attends press conference and states he always thought 180 innings was a hard cap. He refuses to answer questions regarding the playoffs. 
  46. September 5, 2015: backlash from fans and media to Harvey’s press conference. 
  47. September 6, 2015: Matt Harvey announces he will pitch in the postseason. 
  48. September 7, 2015: Sandy Alderson announces Harvey has two regular seasons starts left and may not pitch throughout the entire postseason. 
  49. September 8, 2015: Harvey scheduled to pitch against the Nationals. 

Oliver Perez Might’ve Been a Beloved Met

After Duaner Sanchez‘s infamous cabride, Omar Minaya made a trade to acquire Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez. While the thought process might have been to get another reliever, it was Perez who was pressed into action. 

At first, Perez seemed like an asset for the future. More likely, he was a throw-in. However, Pedro Martinez‘s season ended in September because he needed rotator cuff surgeryEl Duque was injured right before Game One of the NLDS. Steve Trachsel was horrid in the NLDS and the NLCS. The Mets had no option but to press Oliver Perez into action. 

With the Mets down 2-1 in the NLCS, Perez pitched reasonably well. Through five innings he only let up three runs. He started to lose it in the sixth, but that was only after the Mets expanded their lead to 11-3. Then came that epic and tragic Game Seven. Perez was pressed into action again. This time it was on three days rest. 

In Game Seven, he allowed one run over six innings. He was terrific that night, but he was mostly aided by Endy Chavez:

By the way, I was there. I’ve never see Shea like that. For all the good Citi Field has to offer, it will never be like it was at Shea after that catch. I don’t need to continue as to what happened next. 

In 2007, Perez went 15-10 with a 3.56 ERA. In 2008, he wasn’t as good, but he was effective going 10-7 with a 4.22 ERA. He started the last game at Shea with another collapse on hand. He gave the Mets 5.1 innings with two earned allowed. He kept the Mets in the game allowing Carlos Beltran to tie the score in the sixth on a two run homerun. The season effectively ended when Jerry Manuel brought in Scott Schoeneweis

Imagine if that was the end of Oliver Perez. He would’ve been remembered as a gamer. He would’ve been remembered for two decent seasons. Unfortunately, he signed that contact, and he was terrible. That was the lasting memory; not his clutch performances. 

It’s a shame. He could’ve been beloved by Mets fans forever instead of the villain he is. While good-byes are hard, sometimes it’s harder when the player stats too long. 

Matz is Back

I’m excited to see Steven Matz pitch today. I went with my son to see his first career start. We need just a baseball game, especially with everything going on with Matt Harvey. It’s nice to be excited for something positive. That and wins are the best cure for everything happening. 

I know the Marlins are terrible and he’s still building up arm strength, but you have to start somewhere. Enjoy today because we may be seeing an important October piece begin rounding into form. It appears now that we’ll need him as a starter. I’m excited for today. 

Let’s Go Matz!

Time to Get Conforto ABs Against Lefties

Regardless of whether I like it or not, Michael Conforto is a platoon player. Despite my problems with Terry Collins’ recent decision making, I understand his philosophy. He wants to get Michael Cuddyer‘s bat and Juan Lagares‘ glove out there. In the short term, it’s the right decision. 

I also like the idea that Collins seems to be having auditions for spots on the playoff roster. There’s a delicate balance right now between these auditions, keeping players healthy, getting the team ready for October, and protecting a large six game lead. Part of getting the Mets ready for the playoffs is getting the players who will be on the playoff roster ready for what they’ll see in the playoffs. 

The Mets should start with getting Conforto ABs against lefties. With Murphy and Michael Cuddyer injured, it’s a good time. Last night was a good start when Collins let Conforto face Mike Dunn. Conforto didn’t get a hit, but he also didn’t look overmatched. 

On Saturday and Sunday, the Marlins may start a LHP (although there are rumblings Sunday’s starter may change). Conforto should play in one of those games. It’s a good idea because there will come a point in time in October that a team will bring in a lefty to face Conforto. If it’s late in the game or extra innings, Collins may not have the luxury of pinch hitting for him in that spot. With that being said, it’s a good time to get Conforto some ABs against lefties now. 

To make room for Conforto in the lineup, the Mets could sit Curtis Granderson against a lefty. First, he isn’t hitting lefties well at all. Second, it would be good to get him a day off before a big series against the Nationals. Finally, it would be a good idea to let someone else get some reps in RF. I don’t care if it’s Conforto or the better suited Yoenis Cespedes with his strong arm.  Failing to do this might’ve cost the Mets the game last night

Overall, let’s get this team ready for what they’ll see in October. This includes letting Conforto see some lefties before the season is over. 

What’s Happening with Harvey?

Well Twitter blew up today when Jon Heyman wrote that Scott Boras has a problem with how the Mets are handling Matt Harvey‘s return from Tommy John surgery. 

Scott Boras now says the doctors said there was a strict 180 innings limit suggested by the doctors. The Mets denied there was a hard cap. Dr. James Andrews did little to settle the debate. By the way, great job by Tyler Kepner for getting Dr. Andrews on the phone and asking the question that needed to be asked. 

While they are on opposite sides now, they were united in trying to get him surgery. They were on the same page during the rehabilitation. What happened?  Before going into conjecture, let’s look at some facts. 

First, Harvey’s pitch velocity has been in a steady decline since July, which may indicate fatigue. Second, he was dehydrated during his last start. He was left behind in New York to receive treatment. Third, the Mets recent handling of injuries has left a lot to be desired. While I’ll take Mike Vaccaro at his word that there were no issues on how his injury was first handled, I can’t imagine anyone feels comfortable with how recent injuries have been treated by the Mets. 

Whether he considered this or not, Boras emailed Alderson to inform him of his interpretation of the innings limits instructions from Harvey’s doctors. What we don’t know is if Boras went rogue in trying to protect his client, or was he doing this in consultation with Harvey. 

There may be some clues that Boras didn’t go rogue. Earlier in the year, Harvey was irritated over the six man rotation designed to get him to October. Now?  Harvey is on board with the decision to skip one or two of his starts. It should be noted that before the year, Harvey said he would agree with whatever the Mets needed to do to get him starts in October. 

What is clear is everyone involved is taking Harvey’s innings seriously. While it may have been a better way to handle the situation. However, the Mets are skipping two starts and going to a six man rotation in September so Harvey can get starts in October. The Mets want him to start Game One of the NLDS. 

This is part of what the Mets have always said was part of Harvey’s soft innings cap. For his part, Boras was on board with the rehab plan and never voiced displeasure with any soft innings cap. We know Boras isn’t one to bite his tongue. There’s a reason he speaking up now. The Mets have understandably dug in their heels

I know Alderson and Boras aren’t the best of friends, but they need to get back on the same page on this one. For starters, they need to figure out how Harvey is feeling, especially when it seems he’s fatigued. I will never advocate a shut down. I’m not crazy with the skipped starts. However, I will never advocate putting a player’s health in jeopardy.  

To a lesser extent, the Mets need to get rid of the distraction. For his part, Terry Collins put a gag order in place, even if he couldn’t help but giving Boras his own shot. The good news is that this is a resilient team that did not seem distracted yesterday. 

The time for public banter has ceased. The Mets, Boras, Harvey and his doctors need to sit down together to determine if Harvey can pitch more this year. It’s everyone’s responsibility to get Harvey pitching in October and beyond.  It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep him healthy. 

I want a World Series this year. I also want to see a healthy and effective Harvey for years to come. Let’s find a way to make it work. 

Is Duda Really on the ComeBACK Trail?

As we know, Lucas Duda‘s back injury has been lingering. There was an abbreviated comeback that ended with Duda needing to finally go on the DL. When he was eligible to come off the DL, he didn’t. Only recently, he was just tracking balls in batting practice. 

Now, the Mets have announced that Duda will begin his rehab assignment in Binghampton. Their season ends on Monday (postseason notwithstanding). How Duda goes from unable to play to unable to take BP to full rehab games is beyond me. Backs are fickle things. As we saw with David Wright, it takes time to heal to get into playing shape. 

I hope the Mets aren’t rushing Duda back from this injury. I hope this isn’t an overreaction to Daniel Murphy‘s quad injury. One wrong twist or pull and Duda might be done for the season. Murphy might be that close as well. 

The Mets have a six game lead and a weak schedule. Take advantage and let these guys get healthy for a long October run.