Who’s on First?

With injuries to Lucas DudaDaniel Murphy, and Michael Cuddyer, the Mets had to improvise at first base this past weekend against the Marlins. That meant we saw Kelly Johnson and Eric Campbell play first base. 

It seems with the most important series in seven years, the Mets can turn back to their two best 1B options. After his two game rehab stint, Duda is rejoining the Mets in Washington. After sitting out two straight games, Murphy made a pinch hitting appearance in the seventh. He grounded into a double play, and he didn’t exactly look like he was busting it down the first base line. Cuddyer has wrist tendinitis requiring a splint and a cortisone shot. He’s still unavailable. 

I’m glad Duda and Murphy are seemingly ready to go. However, I’m still nervous about Duda’s back and Murphy’s quad. These are nagging types of injuries. Given their recent history dealing with injuries, please excuse me for not believing either player is fully ready to go. Murphy running out of the box should convince you of that. 

Terry Collins has a delicate situation here because the Mets need to put their best foot forward in this series. He started it by sitting David Wright yesterday. They’ll be further aided with Duda at first and Murphy at second. I’m sure that’s where they will be in the lineup. I hope they’re able to contribute. 

I hope they stay healthy because a season and postseason rides on it. 

Niese’s Last Chance?

As I’ve said before, it seems like the Mets are having auditions for a spot on the postseason roster. Jon Niese has already been put on warning that his start against the Nationals will be the biggest start of his career

That’s not hyperbole. Right now, Niese is probably the Mets worst starting pitching option. While he’s been shrinking, his teammates have been stepping up. On Saturday, Bartolo Colon became the oldest Mets pitcher to have a complete game shut outNoah Syndergaard pitched a good game saving the bullpen and giving the Mets a chance to win. Steven Matz had a strong start until leaving the game with a blister. 

As the other starters are stepping up, Niese is shrinking from the moment. Hopefully, this has nothing to do with his shoulder. The Mets haven’t done him any favors by putting him up against Max Scherzer and a rejuvenated Nationals lineup. It’s the perfect time to step up. 

The Mets fans are on the fence right now (not me). They’re invoking 2007 and 2008. It’s like they need an exorcism to prove those demons are gone. Niese probably needs one as well. He made his first three career starts in 2008, all in September. He went 1-1 with a 7.07 ERA and a 2.000 WHIP in 14.0 innings. In his last five starts, he has a 7.06 ERA and a 1.535 WHIP. 

He’s almost as bad this year as we was in 2008. We’ve seen the meltdowns with him when something doesn’t go right. The pressure gets to him. It seems like the pressure of a pennant race also gets to him. He has time to prove me wrong. I want him to prove me wrong. 

The Mets won’t take him out of the rotation in the regular season, especially with the recent drama. However, if he keeps this up, he’s out of the rotation in October. It’ll be amazing to see the man born on the day the Mets last won the World Series not be on the postseason roster. 

If Niese wants to be there in October, it starts today. 

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. 

Prado Killed the Mets

For one Sunday afternoon, it was nice to focus on baseball. The good?  Steven Matz went 5.2 innings with four hits, two walks, six strikeouts, and two earned. He left on the long side. The bad?  He had to leave in the sixth with a blister problem. 

Given the hand he was dealt (yet another pun from me), Terry Collins did a good job with the bullpen. I hate that Tyler Clippard let up the game tying homerun in the eighth. I love how angry he was about it. I love how he was pacing in the dugout angry after the inning. I love the fire he showed. 

If nothing else, this is a resilient team. After just losing the lead, the Mets loaded the bases. Unfortunately, Travis d’Arnaud, who has been d’Man lately, hit into a double play. Sure enough, it was started by new Mets killer, Martin Prado

Now, I’m not getting on Collins for pulling d’Arnaud. I know Anthony Recker had a passed ball on a strike three that started the game winning rally, but Recker is a good defensive catcher.  I also trust Collins knows if one of his players needs a blow. Also, you want d’Arnaud as fresh as possible with a huge series starting with tomorrow’s day game against the Nationals. 

The Marlins would win with Prado’s sacrifice fly in the ninth inning. He’s a new Mets killer. I can’t kill anyone for this loss. Collins made the right moves. I don’t have a problem with Clippard going a second inning. The Mets simply lost because the Marlins were the better team today. 

The team fought hard. Sometimes, it’s just not your day. The Mets will still have a four game lead going into Washington. They still control their own destiny. I’m not talking collapse yet. 

This is a resilient, fun team. Have some faith. Have some fun. Lets Go Mets!

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!

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the second baseman, Wilmer Flores!

What Would You Do?

You have a promising career, and then out of the blue, you get sick. You’re not sure about anything, least of all your job. Your employer gives you time and tells you to come back only when you’re ready. 

You recover, but you never completely feel whole. Your doctor says you can go back to work. However, you need to be a little cautious. You can’t let yourself get that sick again. At that point, you go back to work. Your employer welcomes you with open arms. Everything is great. 

You’re a workaholic. You always have been. You come back working pretty close to the hours you used to work. Your employer is concerned and wants you to slow down. You only know one way to go, and you continue working harder than you probably should.  Your performance has been great. You love being back doing what you love. Initially, your employer takes some stuff off your plate. 

Eventually, they realize it’s useless, and they let you be you. Then it happens. It’s not all at once. However, you begin to notice it. While your performance seems like it’s the same, you know it isn’t. You put it off, but you eventually see the doctor. He tells you that you need to scale it back. You’re going to need to take some time off. If you don’t, you can get sick again, or worse. Your career might be over. Your ability to earn a paycheck forever gone. 

You tell this to your employer. The problem is there’s a huge deadline coming up. It’s the biggest project they’ve ever taken on, and they need all of their best people on it; that means you. They tell you they can give you some time here and there. However, they’re going to need more from you than you really should give. You talk to your doctor again, and while he can’t offer guarantees, he strongly advises you from pushing it. You tell your employer. 

Your employer is now angry. They feel duped. They knew the situation the whole time, but they began to count on you.  Earlier they knew you were working harder than you should, but they don’t care anymore because there’s more on the line now.  No, you’re not getting fired, but their opinion of you has changed. Your options are now to potentially risk everything and work or to take the time off you most likely need. 

Ultimately, do you continue working or do you protect your health?  If you honestly would continue working, and I know people that would, you can scream and yell at Matt Harvey. If you take the time off back off of Harvey. If you’re not willing to make the sacrifice, don’t expect someone else to make it. 

Personally, I once put off tests and ignored doctor’s advice because I was asked to by my employer. My grandfather was a construction worker who worked year round. My father was injured in Vietnam. He’s a DAV. They never took a day off. Who was I?

I worked in an office. I wasn’t putting together the Verrazano Bridge. I wasn’t wading in rice patties in Vietnam. I worked in an office. I ignored my doctor’s advice and the pleas from my wife. Foolishly, I thought if I change my diet or change the times I was eating, it would work out. 

I got through it, I was in severe pain each and every day. There were sleepless nights from the pain and the work. The busy time eventually ended. In exchange for my hard work?  I got to be one of the people at one of those fancy, expensive dinners. My sacrifice was never acknowledged. Im probably still not quite right all these years later. 

I was lucky to make it through everything without anything getting worse. I think of these times now when we talk about Harvey possibly shutting it down. The Mets don’t have the right to tell him to ignore his doctor’s advice. They surely aren’t offering him any financial incentive to do so. 

We forget he was rehabbing with Jeremy Hefner, who had a setback, had a second Tommy John surgery, and was non-tendered by the Mets. He remains unsigned to this day. You see the Mets were willing to pay him so long as he was able to pitch, but once he wasn’t, he was shown the door.

Should the Mets have paid Hefner anyway?  No. However, they should keep in mind if they won’t show loyalty to injured players, they can’t expect other players to show them loyalty. Harvey saw this first hand. He realizes he’s one surgery away from being ruined and losing that $100 – $200 million contact we all discuss. 

If he shuts it down now, he’s that much closer to collecting it. If he pitches, he risks it all. Go to Atlantic City with all your earnings, go to the roulette wheel, and pick a number. I doubt you’ll do it. It’s not the risk. Why are we now asking Harvey to risk all that money.  

Just because Harvey is an athlete, it doesn’t give us or the Mets the right to ask him to do something that could put him in harm’s way. Personally, I hate the timing. I’m disappointed. However, I also acknowledge, things have been getting worse for a while now. The same Harvey that wanted to pitch in 2014 and hated six man rotations now agrees to skipped starts. He leaves games with dehydration and can’t make the initial trip to Miami. 

I can’t prove it but something went wrong within the last month or so. I think it scared him. I bet Scott Boras scared him some more. He thought he was invincible, even after the Tommy John surgery. He remembers Hefner.  Maybe I’m wrong and he was convince. By his doctors and/or Boras to stick to 180 or otherwise risk potentially $200 million. He could be being greedy. 

The thing is we’d never accept less money in our jobs. We’d never gamble away or future ability to earn a living. We wouldn’t put our bodies at risk for our jobs. We need to stop asking athletes to do the very same things we wouldn’t do ourselves. 

We need to give Harvey a break and let him figure this out. Remember he still hasn’t ruled out pitching in the postseason. He just wouldn’t talk about it. You want to get angry?  Get angry with the Mets for not offering him some financial security to allow Harvey to pitch in October with one less thing on his mind. 

Why is Dario Alvarez on the Roster?

When I began this blog, there were many things and players I thought would be great topics. I u thought I would’ve written so much about Dario Alvarez. In that vain, here’s yet another post. 

With the earlier bullpen problems, the Mets called up Alvarez. He was on the roster from August 21st until August 23rd when he was sent down to make room for David Wright on the roster. The Mets kept up Logan Verrett, who wouldn’t be available for another three days. 
In that time, Alvarez made no appearances. Even Akeel Morris was allowed to make an appearance the one day he was up. Last night, Terry Collins let Eric O’Flaherty pitch to a right thereby costing the Mets the game. Alvarez didn’t even get warmed up. I’d say it’s personal, but to his credit Collins seems bigger than that

Overall, with the LOOGY situation unresolved, I can’t believe the Mets keep going to the same failed options. If you’re not going to give Alvarez a chance to be a solution to a major problem, send him back down and stop wasting his service time. 

Honestly, the next time I write about Alvarez, I want a one sentence blurb in a game recap. Any more than that, and I’m wasting my time while the Mets are wasting his time. 

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. 

Matt Harvey Isn’t Billy Chapel

Clear the mechanism.”  

Billy Chapel was a fictional pitcher in the underrated For Love of the Game. He’s at the end of a great career. He’s pitching on short rest to face the Yankees, who are one game away from making the playoffs. From years gone by, Chapel had a sore shoulder and was at the end of his career. Only the immortal Vin Scully could describe what was happening:

And you know Steve you get the feeling Billy Chapel isn’t pitching against left handers, he isn’t pitching against pinch hitters, he isn’t pitching against the Yankees. He’s pitching against time. He’s pitching against the future, against age, and when you think about his career, against ending. And tonight I think he might be able to use that old aching arm one more time to push the sun back up in the sky and give us one more day of summer. 

Billy Chapel prays to God asking for his shoulder to stop hurting for 10 minutes to let him finish the game. The moment becomes so big that he can no longer “clear the mechanism.”  He’s out there by himself, as he always was. There’s a certain beauty to it. As his ex once told him:

You’re perfect. You, the ball, the diamond, you’re this perfectly beautiful thing. You can win or lose the game, all by yourself.

It’s the romantic version we all have of baseball. When we saw Billy Chapel finish off the perfect game, it was magic. I had chills as if it were a real game.  After the game, whether realistically speaking or metaphorically speaking, Chapel’s career was done.  The Mets had their own version of Billy Chapel. His name is Johan Santana

In 2008, the Mets were collapsing again. Santana was having none of that. On a knee that would require offseason surgery, Santana pitched a complete game shut out on three days rest. It was a heroic performance. For at least a day, the Mets season was saved. He was 29 years old, and it would be the last time he would pitch in a game of that magnitude. 

In the next two seasons, he wouldn’t crack 30 starts. He pitched well, but there were diminishing returns. Was that the result of aging or was it due to injury?  After the 2010 season, Santana needed shoulder surgery. He missed the 2011 season. 

Santana would come back in 2012 and have his Billy Chapel moment. On a Friday night in June, Santana pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history. On a night he was supposed to be limited between 110-115 pitches, he threw 134. Once again, Santana put injury concerns aside, acted like a warrior, and he delivered for the Mets.  

After that night, he has only had 10 more starts. He needed another shoulder surgery. He keeps trying to come back, but something always seems to get in the way. It’s the reason why Collins was in tears the night of Santana’s no-hitter. It’s the reason, Collins is still distraught about the decision to let Santana pitch to this day. 

We don’t know if pitching on the injured knee precipitated the shoulder problems. We don’t know if the no-hitter precipitated the second shoulder surgery effectively ending Santana’s career. We do know Santana became the Mets version of Billy Chapel.

Is this what Mets fans want for Matt Harvey?  With the recent drama involving Scott Boras’ remarks, I’ve seen a lot of people saying Harvey should just go out there and pitch. I’ve seen people try to inform Harvey he needs to pitch if Sandy Alderson tells him to go out there and pitch. 

Much like 2008, I’m desperate for the Mets to win a World Series. We saw what happened when we tried to sacrifice a 29 year old’s career to make that happen. I’m not doing it again with a 26 year old. If Harvey’s healthy, he will pitch. If he needs some rest now, give it to him. If he needs to be shut down, shut him down. 

I don’t say that lightly. Keep in mind, I’m the one who has questioned the Mets skipping starts. I did that questioning the logic. There seems to be some smoke that Harvey needs rest, and/or is perilously close to needing to be shut down. No one wants this. 

The one thing no one can ask is for Harvey to risk his career for the 2015 season. Not me, not you, not Sandy Alderson, not anyone. That includes Matt Harvey. If that was my son, Sandy Alderson wouldn’t be hearing from Scott Boras, he would be hearing from me. If other parents say they would send their child out there in harm’s way to pitch in October potentially ruining his career and future earnings, they’re lying to themselves. 

I’ve seen Billy Chapel on the Mets.  The experience gives me a sense of melancholy. I don’t want that for Harvey. I want him healthy and effective. Let’s do what we need to do to get him to October. Let’s do what we need to do to keep him healthy for a long career with the Mets. Maybe there will be multiple Workd Series titles. 

“Clear the mechanism.”