Mets Deep Six the Nationals

It was like the Saturday press conference.  Matt Harvey was there by himself, all alone. He seemed unprepared and less sure of himself. He bungled everything from the start. In the process, he managed to anger the Mets fans. 

The Nationals jumped on Harvey early scoring two in the first and one in the second to take a 3-1 lead. Like he was Sunday, David Wright was there for him hitting a second inning solo homer. Other than that, no one supported him . . . including himself. 

Terry Collins let him leadoff the sixth with the team down two runs. It’s hard to argue with Harvey cruising and the bullpen usage yesterday. The Mets then wasted a gift triple to Curtis Granderson. Then the bottom of the sixth happened. 

The first two got on, and then Harvey bobbled a bunt loading the bases with no out. Harvey got a strikeout, then Michael Taylor stepped up to the plate. He then hit a Little League Grand Slam. It was a hard hit ball so a limited SS like Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] couldn’t make a play on it.  Then Cespedes charged the ball hard, but he olayed it allowing Taylor to go round the bases and give the Nationals a 7-1 lead. Apparently, the Nationals official scorer is a disgruntled Mets fan so it was ruled all seven runs were earned. 

The Mets woke up in the seventh and showed the Nationals who was the better, more resilient team. Down 7-1, the Mets went to work. They loaded the bases and Granderson got an RBI walk, and then Cespedes redeemed himself by hitting a bases clearing double to bring the Mets within 7-6. Upon reloading the bases, Lucas Duda got an RBI walk tying the game at 7-7. 

In the eighth, forgotten man Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a pinch hit go-ahead homerun. Tyler Clippard did his job in the bottom of the inning. 

In the ninth, Jeurys Famila let up a leadoff single. He was helped out by Duda who made a nice play getting the lead runner out on a terrible Anthony Rendon bunt. Familia walked Bryce Harper, who is seemingly 0 for 2015 against the Mets. It would set up a huge 5-4-3 double play to end the game, and perhaps the NL East race. 

It took awhile, but the Mets picked up Harvey and themselves. This Mets team is resilient and looks like they’ve locked it up. Let’s now get Harvey ready for October. 

Post script: I stumped Gary 

  

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. 

Do You Still Celebrate Harvey Day?

It’s been an eventful week for Matt Harvey, the Mets, and Mets fans. Who are we kidding?  It’s been an eventful two years. All season long, Mets fans have celebrated Harvey starts as “Happy Harvey Day!”

I get the impression Mets fans aren’t celebrating Harvey Day anymore. They’re willing to overlook his 12-7 record with a 2.60 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. They’re overlooking how they pined for him all of 2014 because he was the key to being a team that could be a World Series contender. They’re overlooking the fact that Harvey has so far delivered.

I understand the anger. I understand the frustration. I can even understand why people presume that they can tell someone to tell someone to do with their health and career. What I can’t understand is forgetting all that Harvey has done for the Mets. What I can’t understand is the Mets fans double standards. 

Mets fans actually booed a looming free agent superstar in Mike Piazza. For comparison purposes, it would be like the Mets fans booing Yoenis Cespedes now, and Cespedes is nowhere near the player Piazza is.  I’m sure the Mets fans will elect to boo Harvey as well. I guess that puts Harvey in good company. 

Also, the Mets have botched the handling of Harvey’s inning limits, whether or not the 180 was a strict limit. Seriously, they’ve aborted the six man rotation on three different occasions. They’ve refused to bring back Dillon Gee. They never called anyone else up to take Steven Matz‘s place in the six man rotation when he was injured

The Mets made their choice. They let Harvey, and the other pitchers, rack up innings so they had a better chance of winning games in the short term. They were hoping they could bully their pitchers to ignore doctor’s, and yes, agent’s advice, to go beyond their innings limits. We’re going to boo Harvey for this?

I’m not. I’m going to cheer Harvey today (from my living room). I’ll cheer him in this and all other starts he makes in 2015 and beyond. I hope you will as well. 

The Trade We Seem to Forget

The Yoenis Cespedes trade was everything Mets fans could’ve dreamed of and more. The man has been a walking, talking highlight film. Tyler Clippard has locked down the eighth inning. Even though the price the Mets paid for these two players was high, these players have produced well enough that this isn’t the story. 

You know what isn’t a story anymore?  Sandy Alderson’s trade that brought the Mets Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe. Neither one has been spectacular since coming to the Mets. Uribe has gone .200/.288/.410. Johnson has gone .245/.297/.426. However, they’ve had their moments. Yesterday, Johnson hit a homerun to put the Mets up 2-0. On his first day, Uribe got a game winning hit in extra innings. Uribe may not be hitting much, but the hits he has are huge. 

Also, Uribe has been a great clubhouse presence. He keeps things light. He keeps things upbeat. That’s important when the Mets have had some bad beats.  This team gets themselves off the mat. I’m sure Uribe has played a large part in that. 

It’s also important to note with David Wright back and a healthy Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda, they’re bench players. Good, veteran bench players that gives Terry Collins a lot of options. This is a huge upgrade over the Danny Muno‘s of the world. 

Johnson and Uribe have both been been in the playoffs, and Uribe has won a World Series. Their acquisition was the first step towards winning a World Series. However far the Mets go, they will be a big part of it. 

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the shortstop, Wilmer Flores!

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. 

Dwight Gooden Career Advice

The 1980’s tremendous run was partly fueled by Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. They had their share of drug problems. They were self destructive. They were labeled the “Dead End Kids.”  

It seems after years, most likely decades, of problems, they’re finally clean. They have seemingly turned their lives around. They now have important things to say and have important things to do. It’s a remarkable turn-around. I want to hear them talk as much as possible about the dangers of drug use. It’s an important message. Hopefully, they’ll prevent someone from repeating their mistakes. Maybe they’ll help a troubled person through a tough time. 

What I don’t want to hear is them lecture other players on how they should be more like they were. Sure enough, Gooden weighed in on the whole Matt Harvey controversy:

This hypocrisy demands a look into Doc’s career, a look I would rather not make. However, when he tells everyone to look at what he did when he was playing, we should. 

Let’s start with the innings. Doc was abused by Davey Johnson and Mel Stottlemeyer. Doc was amazing. He was doing things not even Tom Seaver did. In his age 19, 20, and 21 seasons, he threw 218.0, 276.2, and 250.0 innings. His last All Star Game was in 1988, when he was 23 years old. On September 8, 1991, when he was 26 years old,  he received season ending rotator cuff surgery. For a man who set strikeout records, he would never again reach 150 strikeouts. In the last eight years of his career, his average season was 7-7 with a 4.45 ERA and 94 strikeouts. 

Effectively speaking, he was done when he was 26 years old. If anyone should be preaching caution against overuse, it’s Gooden. His Hall of Fame talent and possible career went the wayside due to abuse and overuse, at least partial so. 

That wasn’t the only abuse that ruined Gooden’s career. Gooden was a drug addict. Gooden became hooked on cocaine during the 1986 season. He missed the championship parade because he was high in the projects. In 1987, he was suspended for one month due to failed drug tests. He was forced into rehab by then Commissioner Peter Ueberroth. Gooden missed the Opening Day after a World Series title. He would return on June 5, 1987. It was 31 games into the season, the equivalent of six starts. The Mets missed the playoffs by three games that year. Gooden would be suspended for the 1995 season for failing a “bunch of [drug] tests.”  

So no, I don’t want Gooden to point to his career as an example of what to do. When he talks about Harvey being shut down for health reasons, he neglects how injuries damaged his career. When he talks about how Harvey should demand that he go out there for his teammates, he neglects to mention all the times he wasn’t. 

I don’t like bashing Gooden. However, I also don’t like the Harvey bashing. Harvey has a hard decision and a career to contemplate. It’s easy for everyone to tell Harvey what to do. It’s not their career or future. It was easy for Gooden to do the same. He just forgot how injuries ruined his career as well as the times he wasn’t there for his teammates. 

Harvey has a big start tomorrow, and he will pitch in the playoffs. I wish the best for him. More importantly, I wish the best for Gooden. They both need our support this year and beyond. 

Mets Are Resilient & Better

The Mets lost 2/3 to the Marlins. The Nationals were coming in hot. The Mets were starting their worst pitcher in Jon Niese, and the Nationals were starting their best in Max Scherzer. There was no reason why you would think the Mets would win this game. 

Except this – the Mets are resilient, and they’re a better team. Niese was handed a three run lead from Michael ConfortoKelly Johnson, and Yoenis Cespedes solo homeruns. He then didn’t get a call leading to a walk loading the bases. Sure enough, he gives up the lead on a grand slam to Met killer Wilson Ramos

He’s pulled and Carlos Torres enters. Sure enough, he pulls up lame and has to leave the game early. The resilient Mets got terrific bullpen work today made all the more remarkable by the fact that Tyler Clippard was unavailable. Erik GoeddelDario AlvarezHansel Robles, and Jeurys Familia combined to pitch four shutout innings allowing one hit and striking out eight. The highlights were Alvarez becoming the LOOGY we imagined he is by striking out Bryce Harper in the seventh, and Robles quick pitching his way into the Nationals’ heads. 

The Mets offense made sure the bullpens work was rewarded. After tying it with runs in the fifth and sixth, the Mets took over in the seventh. After Ruben Tejada negated a Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] lead off double with an awful sac bunt attempt, the Mets were resilient and picked him up. After a Curtis Granderson walk, David Wright hit an RBI single to put the Mets ahead for good. He would later score on a Cespedes RBI double. The image so far for the season is Wright pumping his fist as he beat out Harper’s throw to score the eighth run of the game. 

By the way, Cespedes had himself a day at the plate. He went 3-5 with two runs scored, two RBIs, two doubles and a homer. Terry Collins also had himself a day. Before the game, he declared this is a playoff series, and he was going to manage accordingly. If this is what we can expect in October, I take back every negative thing I’ve said about his managing abilities

This was just a terrific win. It’s the type of game that can sink the Nationals and propel the Mets even further. This’s Mets team is resilient, and they’re taking control of the division again. They’re putting the Nationals in the rear-view mirror, and they’re not looking back. 

The Mets Will Remain in First Place

Today’s game is the biggest game the Mets have played since they moved to Citi Field. It’s their biggest series in seven years. No matter what happens, they will leave Washington in first place. 

They’re carrying a four game lead into Washington. Even if the get swept, they will remain in first. If the Mets sweep, they will be seven up with 26 games remaining.  Like James Ingram, all I’m asking is that the Mets win “Just Once.”  That’ll give them a three game lead presumably forcing the Nationals to sweep the Mets in the last series of the season to have a shot of winning the division. 

The Mets set up their post-All Star Break rotation with Noah SyndergaardMatt Harvey, and Jacob deGrom facing the Nationals in their first two series against each other. After the Mets August 2nd win completing the sweep, the Mets have been in first place, and they do not look like they want to give it back.  The Nationals seem to have noticed. 

They have set up their rotation so the Mets face Max ScherzerJordan Zimmermann, and Steven Strasburg. While the Mets will lead-off with Jon Niese, they will follow with Harvey and deGrom. The last two games of this series is must see TV. Especially with Harvey and deGrom, I like the Mets chances. 

Since 2009, the Mets have had a losing record. We dreamed of the day that this young pitching would come together and lead the Mets to the playoffs and beyond. The Nationals are the only obstacle in their way. “I know we can break through it.”  

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the shortstop, Wilmer Flores!