Jose Reyes

Just Pray for Harvey

The worst thing that can happen to the Mets is them losing one of their pitchers for any period of time. With Matt Harvey‘s undisclosed and unknown medical situation, this fear is now a reality. 

The scary part about it is how it has escalated. First, the Mets assumed he was hung over. Then, they thought it wouldn’t prevent him from making his next Spring Training start. Now, he’s flying back to New York for further examination. He’s most likely going to miss Opening Day. The players don’t know what’s going on, and they are praying for him

The only thing we do know is Harvey’s arm is fine, or as only Terry Collins can put it, “His arm is fine!  His arm is fine!  Ok?  His arm is fine.”  This is leading to speculation as to what is wrong with Harvey, and there is no shortage of opinions. 

This is because no one knows what’s happening. Part of that is HIPAA laws. Part of that is the Mets making an announcement before having all of the information. A large part of it is Harvey’s Bravo appearance and general assumptions fans have about him. 

Hopefully, this is a relatively minor issue not only because of the Mets season, but more importantly, this is a man’s health we are talking about here. With that said, I’m reminded of other instances where a player’s health has postponed, derailed, or ended a player’s career. 

As Mets fans, we have seen our fair share of problems. There was Ike Davis‘ bout with Valley Fever. Jose Reyes was found to have a thyroid condition. Just last year, there was David Wright and his spinal stenosis diagnosis. Elsewhere, there have been far more life threatening medical issues. 

Jon Lester battled lymphoma before coming back and winning the clincher of the 2004 World Series. Brian Picolo would go from an NFL player to dying from cancer. There was also the day fifteen years ago when Magic Johnson retired from the NBA when he discovered he contracted HIV. 
We don’t know what Harvey’s medical issue is.  We may never know. The only thing we do know is no one wants to see something happen that will not only forever alter Harvey’s career, but also his life. So while we know his arm is alright, we don’t know if he’s alright. We don’t know what, if any effect, this will all have on his career. 

Like Travis d’Arnaud and the rest of the Mets, all we can do is pray that Harvey will be alright. 

Editor’s Note: this article first appeared on metsmerizedonline.com

Wright’s Most Important Season as Captain

Today, the Mets officially report to Spring Training.  With the 2016 season unofficially starting, David Wright begins his most important year as Captain of the New York Mets. 

Back in 2007, Wright was a 24 year old superstar. His team was coming off a shocking loss in the NLCS, and yet going into 2007, many believed the Mets were the best team in the National League, if not all of baseball.  With Wright and Jose Reyes, the Mets were seen not only as a win-now team, but also as a team that was built for the long haul. It worked out that way for exactly 145 games. 

Not that Tom Glavine finds it devastating or anything, but the Mets collapsed over the final 17 games. There are a number of things we can point to as the reason the Mets collapses. Over those final 17 games, Brian Lawrence, a 23 year old Mike Pelfrey, and Philip Humber received starts with the Mets going 1-3 in those games. You can point to players like Reyes not hitting down the stretch. Speaking of Reyes, many point to him dancing in Game 161 as the reason. 

After the Mets were swept by the Phillies, they had 14 games remaining against sub .500 teams.  These teams had a combined .457 winning percentage. This includes a Cardinals team that had to come to New York to play a make-up game. They shut the Mets out. After the Phillies swept the Mets, there was every reason to believe the Mets would win the division, or at the absolute worst, the Wild Card. They did neither. There really is no excuse for what happened. 

We saw it again in 2008. The Mets had a lead in the division up until the 149th game of the season. The Mets then lost the division lead. Again, the Mets season was on the line on the final game of the season.  Again, they lost at home to a bad Marlins team. 

Sure you can point to a myriad of things in 2008. Billy Wagner was injured leading to a revolving door at closer. Again, it’s excuses. The Mets had a different manager and pitching coach at the end of the season. Willie Randolph and Rick Peterson were the fall guys for 2007 in getting fired one game into a West Coast trip. 

At the end of the day, it wasn’t the manager or the coaches. It was the team. There just was something missing. One player that wasn’t a problem?  David Wright. 

In 2007, Wright hit .352/.432/.602 with six homers and 20 RBI over the final month of the season. In 2008, Wright hit .340/.416/.577 with six homers and 21 RBI in the final month of the season. While Shea was burning, Wright was playing his best baseball. While there was a problem with those 2007-2008 teams, Wright wasn’t one of them. 

Now, Wright is the only player that remains from those teams. 

Wright is now 33 years old. He’s a leader on the team. He’s the Captain. Once again, he’s on a Mets team that has a chance to return to the postseason. He’s once again playing for a team that is a legitimate World Series contender. 

This may be Wright’s most important season as the Captain. He can share with the team all the things that went wrong in 2007 and 2008 to help prevent any of these issues arising with this Mets team. If problems do arise, he can help guide the team. He can share with them whatever it was within him in 2007 and 2008 to play his best when the team seemed to be at their worst. 

In 1986, the Mets had a de facto team captain in Keith Hernandez that showed the team how to win. Thirty years later, the Mets have a Captain that can show the team how not to lose. 

Hopefully, with another Mets captain leading the way, the Mets will once again win the World Series. 

Distracting You from Zobrist

I remember back when Jose Reyes left the Mets for the Marlins. I was angry. The Mets were in the beginning stages of the Madoff fallout, and Reyes was the first casualty of that. 

After the Reyes’ signing, the Mets proceeded to become curiously active the next day. The Mets signed Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco. They also traded Angel Pagan for Ramon Ramirez and Andres Torres. Sure, the Mets lost their homegrown All Star shortstop, but look over here, look at the flurry of moves. Nothing to see in Miami. We’re having a press conference on SNY to announce the addition of FOUR . . . count them . . . FOUR NEW PLAYERS!  The Mets would be terrible in 2012 finishing in fourth place with a 74-88 record

Today had that type of feel to me. The Mets lost Ben Zobrist to the Cubs, and they didn’t look particularly good in the process. So naturally, the Mets went back to what they do best: deflection. Instead of rebuilding their bullpen, they rebuilt their middle infield by trading for Neil Walker and signing Asdrubal Cabrera

Now, I have said both of these players were worth investigating. However, I would’ve preferred keeping Daniel Murphy and Jon Niese over adding Walker. In that scenario, the Mets still could’ve added Cabrera. Right now, I’d probably be commenting how the Mets vastly improved their middle infield situation. Instead, I’m baffled how the Mets traded away another pitcher while adding a poor defensive SS on a two year deal. 

I’ll admit I was distracted a little bit four years ago. I wasn’t the biggest Angel Pagan fan. Now, I’m just wondering why the cost saving moves instead of bringing back the NLCS MVP. I’m also curious as to why an organization that values OBP added low OBP players. I’m nonplussed at the Mets adding yet another steroids guy to the roster. 

I would’ve accepted all of it if the Mets were made better in the process. However, they didn’t. They’re worse off defensively, and they lost a reasonably priced starting pitcher. I just see the same bluster I saw four years ago. 

It leaves me feeling sad. My son’s favorite player will be playing elsewhere next year. He’s disappointed to say the least. There’s nothing the Mets can do to make me forget that.  

Mets Embarrased Themselves

At the end of the day, I’m happy the Mets avoided a huge mistake when Ben Zobrist agreed to a four year $56 million contract with the Cubs. There’s usually nothing wrong with losing a bidding war. However, the Mets still managed to look like a second rate Mickey Mouse organization. 

I’m not sure what happened first.  Did the Mets hire Casey Stengel to be their first ever manager or did they announce to the whole world that Zobrist was their top priority? By their own admission, they were transparent in how desperately they wanted him. They gave him a tour of New York and the surrounding areas (just like they did with Billy Wagner). They were also confident:

The Mets should’ve felt confident. They were said to be willing to go as high as four years $60 million. That’s higher than what he wound up getting. What happened?  Well, the Mets happened. First, the Mets discussed parameters instead of a concrete offer (shades of the wife beater). Next, they had him in a meeting and let him walk out unsigned. Lastly, they got cocky. It wasn’t until today the Mets offered Zobrist that fourth year. So Zobrist leaves the Mets and . . . 

That’s right. Zobrist effectively became a Cub last night.  With that said, the Mets were confident all day they were getting Zobrist. How confident?

The day after the Cubs agreed to a deal with Zobrist, the Mets were 80% sure they were getting Zobrist. There no other way to put this. The Mets were delusional. When they finally figured out there was a problem, they were a day late and a dollar (or a few million) short. Seemingly, they went into scramble mode with Terry Collins sending Zobrist text messages saying, “We want you.”  After Zobrist signed, there’s no word if Collins sent Zobrist a text saying 😭. 

Keep in mind this was after the Mets already lost the bidding. A bidding war they let the Cubs enter. The Cubs needed to make a trade to open up the second base spot for Zobrist. The camps were most likely keeping it quiet so as not to diminish the Cubs leverage in trading Starlin Castro. If the Mets just made the four year $60 million offer, this probably doesn’t go down in the Winter Meetings. If Zobrist rejected it, the Mets could’ve moved on and at least picked up a reliever or two

Nope. The Mets overplayed their hand. They let other teams enter the fray. They let everyone know they wanted Zobrist and still didn’t get him despair apparent mutual interest. The Mets may say it wasn’t about the money, but they’ll never truly know because they were holding it back. Zobrist agreed to terms with another team BEFORE the Mets made their best offer. Now, it’s time for Plan B:

Wow. Just wow. It keeps getting worse. 

Tejada May Be Limping Away

Through everything that has happened with Ruben Tejada this postseason, one thing gets lost in the shuffle. He’s not a good SS and he’s starting to get expensive. With these things in mind, he’s not a lock to return in 2016:

Tejada is expected to receive $2.5 million in arbitration. He cannot be a free agent until 2018. He may have poor range (-5.6 UZR), but he catches everything hit to him. He’s a career .255/.340/.323 hitter. Long story, short. He’s a major leaguer. Maybe not a great one, but a major leaguer nevertheless. 

It also means he’s as asset. Yes, this is the second time he’s broken his right leg. I know he’s not what everyone imagined he would be when the other shortstop left in free agency. However, he’s a competent player who is not making that much money. Last time the Mets made a penny wise, pound foolish decision like this was Justin Turner, and we know how that worked out. 

Tejada is about to turn 27, so you can argue he’s about to be entering the prime of his career. The Mets seem to be letting Daniel Murphy walk and installing Dilson Herrera at second. If Herrera isn’t ready, Wilmer Flores (the lesser of all evils at SS) would be the most likely candidate to play second. Except he can’t in that situation because the Mets non-tendered Tejada. Also, what happens if Flores repeats his early season SS struggles?

I’m sure the Mets will look to get someone to replace Tejada, but it’s slim pickings. Do you really want to see Jimmy Rollins or Alexei Ramirez there everyday?  It’s one thing to bring them in and give them a chance, it’s another to have to rely upon them. This more than anything is the reason why Tejada is so important. 

The Mets need to keep Tejada. 

Manfred Cannot Let Reyes Play in 2016

Well the NFL’s big problem has reared its ugly head again. Only this time it was Jose Reyes allegedly assaulting his wife in a Hawaii hotel room. Domestic Violence is now an issue MLB has to address. There is a policy in place now to handle these cases. No doubt it was in response to the NFL. Here’s the policy:

If you’re having trouble reading it, here’s what you need to know:

  1. An accused player can be placed on leave for seven days during the investigation;
  2. There is no maximum or minimum penalty;
  3. The only factor in punishment is the severity of the conduct;
  4. Punishment is not conditional on the adjudication of the crime in court; and 
  5. If the suspension holds up on appeal, player will not be paid or accrue service time. 

The main issue for Manfred is he’s about to set a precedent, a precedent everyone hoped would not have to be set. In any event, we’re here, and Manfred will have to deal with this issue. He has no choice but to come down hard on Reyes. 

The first reason is the Alex Rodriguez factor. Manfred’s first major suspension was to suspend A-Rod 211 games as part of the Biogenesis Scandal. The suspension would be reduced to 162 games on appeal. Manfred and MLB cannot maintain the appearance of being soft on destic violence but hard on steroids. A-Rod was made the poster boy for steroids, and MLB pursued him with avengeance. 

MLB cannot afford to look like they’re coming down harder on someone who used steroids than a player who assaults his wife. The only way to circumvent that is to go after Reyes with the same ferocity they came after A-Rod. 

Additionally, Manfred has to come down hard because he’s setting a precedent by which all future punishments will be judged. That was the whole issue with the Ray Rice suspension. Not only was four games way too light, but it also set a low threshold. As a result, Greg Hardy’s 10 game ban was reduced to four games. Whatever Reyes gets here will be the new standard. 

Ultimately, I’d suspend Reyes for the full 2016 season. There’s no other choice. Not after how MLB went after A-Rod. Think about it, in the grand scheme of things what’s worse: (1) taking PEDs to improve your on the field performance; or (2) assaulting your wife or child. 

If the number of games is reduced on appeal, it’s reduced. There’s nothing MLB can do about it. However, no matter what happens at that appeal, the message has been sent out there: MLB will not tolerate Domestic Violence. 

Unfortunately, that may be the only good that comes out of this. Suspend Reyes a full season. 

Reyes Might Be a Lowlife Woman Beater

I remember the Francisco Rodriguez assault of a family member in 2010. The reports were Jose Reyes was deeply troubled by it, especially because his wife and kids saw it. Now I saw this:

Apparently, Reyes assaulted his wife in a hotel room in Wailea. My first reaction really was, no, it couldn’t be him. Not Reyes. Then I went to his Twitter page:

Yup, he’s vacationing in Hawaii. It at least adds credibility to a story I find incredulous. Frankly, I’m stunned, and this is coming from a guy who grew up rooting for Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. If it’s true, Reyes will be the first player suspended under Major League Baseball’s new Domestic Violence Policy. It’s a test for Rob Manfred as Major League Baseball is dealing with this seemingly for the first time. 

If it’s true, I’ll immediately purge every Reyes thing I’ve ever owned. I’ll make sure to go to Mets-Rockies games and boo him mercilessly. Mostly, I’ll be sad and disappointed. Not just for losing a favorite player, but also because another man abused another woman. It’s got to stop. 

Hopefully, everything about the report is false. If it is, I’ll immediately take this post down. I really hope I have to take this post down. 

I Hope Murphy Signs Quickly

Earlier, I had a case as to why I believed the Mets should try to re-sign Daniel Murphy. I think the Mets should bring him back. However, there are valid reasons why you don’t bring him back. 

He’s not a good defensive second baseman, and that’s the only place to play him right now and in the near future. He’s prone to a base running gaffe or two. Re-signing him will be very expensive insurance option for David Wright, especially when you already have Wilmer Flores. You don’t want to create a log jam on the roster and in the infield for when Dilson Herrera is ready to play everyday in the majors. 

Whatever the decision, I hope the process happens quickly. The longer it goes on, the more awkward it becomes for everyone. As a result, more questions get asked about why the Mets arent interested, or what’s wrong with Murphy that team’s aren’t interested?  It’s better that the process happens quickly. The overall goal is to avoid the he said – she said that followed after Jose Reyes signed with the Marlins. The Mets were good to Murphy, and in return, Murphy was good to the Mets. There’s no need for anyone to look bad here. 

As a parting gift, the Mets should get a first round compensation pick, and Murphy should get a huge contract.

It Was Worth the Wait

My favorite Mets team was the 1999 team. I loved everything about that team from Bobby V to Mike Piazza to Edgardo Alfonzo to Robin Ventura to John Olerud. It was my first real taste of a pennant race and the playoffs. I was lucky to be there for Pratt’s All Folks and the Grand Slam Single. I look back on the year with melancoly because of this:

In 2000, the Mets got Mike Hampton. The season became World Series or bust. A strange feeling for a Mets fan. Hampton would deliver. He was the NLCS MVP. The Mets then had to face the Yankees in the World Series. It was a cruel series with Todd Zeile‘s ball landing on the wall and falling back into play.  Timo Perez didn’t run and didn’t score. Roger Clemens threw a bat at Piazza and wasn’t ejected. The series then ended in the most heartbreaking way possible:

The Mets would be terrible for the next few years, but everything came together in 2006. Our homegrown stars, Jose Reyes and David Wright, we’re becoming superstars. They were joined by the two Carloses: Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. It was a team that ran roughshod over the National League. Beltran was the best baseball player on the planet that year (who somehow didn’t win the MVP). The Mets had momentum in Game Seven with Endy Chavez’s catch. Here’s how that season ended:

In 2007, the Mets reloaded and were primed to go back to the World Series. They were up 7 with 17 to play. On the final game of the season, they sent future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine to the mound with his 300 wins. He wouldn’t be devastated when he got out of the first, but we would:

In 2008, the Mets diagnosed their problem, and much like 2000, they went out to get it. The Mets brought in Johan Santana, and he delivered. they needed him in a strange year that saw Wille Randolph fired after a win on the first game of a west coast trip. The interim manager threatened to cut Reyes if he didn’t come off the field after pulling up lame, and people acted like it was a good thing. Through all of that, the Mets were collapsing again, and yet an injured Santana took the ball on three days rest. He saved the season, but only for a day: 

The last three were the most difficult for me because I was there. It got more difficult because Citi Field was initially a disappointment. It got worse because the product on the field was bad. 

Then Matt Harvey came up and was an All Star. Jacob deGrom came from seemingly nowhere to become a Rookie of the Year and an All Star. They were joined by Noah Syndergaard. The Mets made a flurry of trades including one for Yoenis CespedesDaniel Murphy had an out of body experience. Then this happened:

All that pain. All that suffering. We know what it’s like to be Mets fans. There’s pain and suffering. However, there are moments of pure joy. It’s all the losing that makes nights like last night all the more special. 

We’re Mets fans. We were there for all of this. There are older fans who experienced more pain, but also more joy. There are younger fans who only know losing. Now, we’re all Pennant Winners. It’s like the 80’s again when the Mets are the best team of baseball. We’re “Back in the New York groove!”

One Week from Today

I was there for Game Seven of the 2006 NLCS. It was painful.  However, I was able to finally get some sleep by thinking the Mets would be back.

One of the things I could hang my hat on was that most of the players were in their prime and returning. On top of that, Jose Reyes and David Wright were still young and improving. 

I was wrong about the Mets returning to the playoffs. I would watch in horror in 2007 and 2008 as the Mets would collapse in back-to-back years. Then, the Mets were in for six years of just terrible baseball. Finally, the Mets turned it around this year, and they finally returned to the playoffs. 

A lot is different now. The Mets changed ballparks. The core of the team changed from in their prime sluggers to young power arms. The only thing the two teams have in common is David Wright, but not even he is the same. In 2006, he was a 23 year old on the verge of superstardom. This year he’s a 32 year old veteran dealing with a serious back issue. 

In any event, Wright and the Mets are back in the playoffs. They’re just eight years behind schedule. We don’t know if the Mets will start the NLDS in New York or Los Angeles. We don’t know the start time of the game. All we know right now is the Mets will be playing a playoff game next week

After waiting nine years, I’m more than happy to wait a week. I just hope I won’t have to wait more than 33 days for the Mets to win a World Series.