Matt Harvey

Simply Amazin: Looking Bleak Podcast

Due to site difficulties, this is going up a week later than anticipated, but fortunately (or unfortunately), all of what was discussed remains relevant. Players discussed during this podcast included Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Melvin Mora, Mike Bordick, Brandon Nimmo, Mark Canha, Starling MarteBilly Taylor, Jason Isringhausen, Matt Harvey, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Josh Hamilton, David Wright, Ike Davis, Jake Marisnick, Blake Taylor, Dominic Smith, Robinson Cano, Eduardo Escobar, Shawon Dunston, Craig PaquettePedro MartinezCarlos Beltran,  and many, many more.

As always, thanks to Timothy Rider. It was an absolute blast. Please take a listen to the Simply Amazin podcast (by clicking on this link).


Matt Harvey Was Gooden, Strawberry, and Hernandez All In One

When Matt Harvey was with the New York Mets, there were some warning signs. The biggest might’ve been when he missed the postseason workout at Citi Field right before the Mets headed to Los Angeles for Game 1 of the 2015 NLDS. Of course, there was loud and unconfirmed speculation Harvey had a drug problem when he failed to show up to Citi Field leading to his suspension.

As we found out in his testimony in the criminal case involving Tyler Skaggs death from an overdose, Harvey has a drug problem. During his time with the Mets, Harvey was using cocaine while partying. This is just a sad reminder to Mets fans on how Dwight Gooden‘s and Darryl Strawberry‘s Hall of Fame caliber talent didn’t find its way to Cooperstown because of their drug abuse. Like with Harvey, neither Doc nor Darryl ever received the help they needed.

As we discovered, Harvey was using cocaine when he went to the Los Angeles Angels. Harvey also said teams never asked him if he had a drug problem. That does seem odd considering what people were very loudly whispering behind the scenes about him.

For Harvey, it wasn’t just cocaine. He also had a problem with painkillers. From his testimony, we never discovered the genesis of that abuse, and trying to play a guessing game here would be irresponsible and unfair. That said, Harvey did testify there was a culture where players used painkillers to try to stay on the field. The fact he received pills from a hockey player seems to point to a great issue across sports.

What’s astounding is Harvey saying he and other players, like Skaggs, would use/abuse the painkillers in the clubhouse and even the dugout. Make no mistake here. If Harvey and Skaggs were doing it, and they were getting pills from players in other sports, there is a much larger issue here. We do not know the full scope, and we may never find out. However, there is a significant problem when players have such easy access to these drugs, and they have no issue using them around other people.

We know it is something which led to Skaggs’ death. We know there are many players who have developed an addiction to painkillers. Former Packers QB Brett Favre is one of them. Some may have believed this was just an NFL issue, but apparently, it is much larger than that.

Now, reminiscent of Keith Hernandez in the infamous Pittsburgh Drug Trials, Harvey is testifying about his abuse and the abuse of a dead teammate. Hernandez estimated there were about 40% of players using cocaine back then, and we just saw Harvey testify about what he has seen with painkillers. Like Hernandez saw what happened to Doc and Darryl, Harvey saw what happened to Skaggs and perhaps other teammates.

For that matter, Harvey has his own what if story with his career. Ultimately, yes, TOS was what forever impacted Harvey’s career. However, we don’t know how much the painkillers and cocaine might’ve stopped him from getting the treatment he needed when he needed it. Fair or not, Harvey did testify he believes it all impacted his career negatively. There are those who will forever hold it against him no matter how unfair it is.

In the end, you can only hope Harvey is clean, and he has received or will receive the help he needs. You can also hope with new Mets owners there is an entirely different culture where players like Harvey get the help they need. As we look forward, you can’t help but wonder what this all means for Harvey as he will now publicly live the rest of his life as a known drug addict and as someone who is still looking to hold onto his fleeting MLB career.

Steve Cohen Continues To Face More Scrutiny Than Wilpons

In a recent article by Mike Puma of the New York Post, he indicated the New York Mets were going to have difficulty finding a President of Baseball Operations just like they did last offseason. That article cited the errors in the hirings made by Sandy Alderson and Cohen’s Twitter account.

Considering former Miami Marlins executive David P. Samson was the source, you can take all of this with a grain of salt. After all, Samson loved operating his teams and treating the Marlins fans every bit like the Wilpons did with the Mets.

That right there is the problem. There have been years of transgressions by the Wilpons largely unreported and/or criticized in the press. These are the same people who claimed they were duped in a Ponzi scheme. They had a number of hirings and a lawsuit hostile to women in their workplace. They threatened the press about the coverage of their team, and they would go so far as to restrict access in response to a negative story about them or a favored player.

They stripped the team down for financial solvency. They used SNY as an intermediary to do exactly what the McCourts did with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Jeff Wilpon interfered with medical decisions which cut short Pedro Martinez‘s career, and he tried to interfere with Carlos Beltran‘s career saving knee surgery. By and through Sandy Alderson, there was the lie about Matt Harvey‘s innings limits, and we saw what happened with Harvey’s once promising career.

Overall, the Wilpons were just flat out bad people. They did horrid things, and they did them purposefully. They cared about no one but themselves and their own power. This largely went unreported and uncriticized except when a reporter would leave the beat.

However, with Cohen, if his eye glasses are askew or he tweets something, it is a capital offense demanding the power of the pen. In the end, those now criticizing him have let us know they’re not reporting what they know, but rather, what ownership tells them they’re allowed to report. If anything, these reports attacking Cohen are a credit to Cohen because he is not standing in the way.

If nothing else, that tells us the Mets are truly in a much better spot. It’s not just the money or the desire to win. While there have been missteps requiring reflection and growth, things have truly changed in how the team is operated. The only hope is these mistakes are cleaned up, and the Mets get back on the path towards winning a World Series.

Luis Rojas Right To Lift Taijuan Walker For Aaron Loup

The New York Mets were up 2-1 (an actual lead!) when the San Francisco Giants came to bat in the top of the seventh. An inexplicable stretch would follow.

Kris Bryant, a player the Mets opted to not obtain at the trade deadline, reached on a Jonathan Villar error. Keep in mind, this is a roster basically bereft of third baseman, and Villar is masquerading there (poorly) right now.

After Bryant reached on the error, Alex Dickerson singled. Now, that single probably should’ve been caught, but Jeff McNeil has lingering leg problems, and Michael Conforto got a late read on the bloop.

With first and second and no outs, Luis Rojas had a decision to make. Does he stick with Taijuan Walker who had allowed just a Bryant homer entering the inning? Or, does he go to Aaron Loup to face the left-handed hitting Brandon Crawford?

Rojas went with Loup, and Walker was justifiably angry. After the way he pitched, why wouldn’t he?

Just because Walker was at 74 pitches and was angry doesn’t mean it was the wrong decision. Here are some stats:

  • Walker (pitches 76-100) .250/.321/.500
  • Walker (third time through order) .279/.324/.500
  • Loup 1.03 ERA
  • Loup (2nd Half) 0.00 ERA
  • Loup (vs. LHB) .159/.203/.159
  • Loup (2nd Half) .167/.234/.167
  • Loup (Runners 1st & 2nd) .100/.182/.100

Look at the numbers up and down. Loup was the right decision. As for the potential Walker was cruising arguments, so was Matt Harvey.

Yes, Loup did allow a two run RBI double, and the Mets then trailed 3-2. That doesn’t mean it was the wrong decision. After all, if Walker’s career numbers held true, something bad was likely to happen that inning.

For some, they still think Walker should’ve stayed in the game. They’re absolutely wrong. Many will blame Rojas for the loss. Those people should never be taken seriously.

Remember, the Mets hit into five double plays. Nine men were left on base. They were 2-for-8 with RISP. They wouldn’t accept the Giants trying to hand the game to them.

Case-in-point was the ninth. Brandon Belt overran a foul ball, and Jonathan Villar followed with a single. Brandon Drury reached when Dickerson pulled a Bump Bailey causing the easy fly ball to hit the ground.

Francisco Lindor popped out to the infield before Brandon Nimmo walked to load the bases. That brought up Alonso with the bases loaded. Instead of the walk-off, we got a pop out to end the game.

Alonso was just bad in the game going 1-for-5 hitting into two double plays and stranding seven. He came up with the bases loaded in the sixth too, and the Mets only scored due to a Bryant throwing error.

All told, the Giants begged the Mets to win this game. Despite the Giants best efforts, and aside from a Dominic Smith RBI double in the sixth, the Mets offense was just plain bad.

People can make it all about Rojas all they want. However, just know, when they do that, they’re flat out wrong, and in the end, they’re just looking for a fall guy instead of just admitting this team isn’t as good as advertised.

That’s on the GM and the front office. Not Rojas.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Secure Winning Road Trip In Baltimore

The New York Mets traveled to Baltimore to play the Orioles to complete their nine game road trip. With the split, they finished 5-4:

1. Of course, Kevin Pillar and Mason Williams were the first Mets to go back-to-back. In some ways, that’s the perfect encapsulation of this season.

2. On the subject of homers, Pete Alonso hit three, and he’s heating up just before a temperature check series against the San Diego Padres.

3. Alonso has always been one to speak his mind, and he was right on point when he said the biggest issue is the way MLB changes the ball year-to-year.

4. It’s funny. The Mets really had no choice but to obtain Billy McKinney, but now they suddenly look like geniuses for it.

5. The story of how Kevin Pillar has been a big believer in McKinney, was exited about the acquisition, and picked up McKinney when he joined the team speaks volumes about why this team is performing so well.

6. It’s funny how quickly fans went from why would the Mets sign Pillar to Pillar becoming a fan favorite they fiercely defend has been hilarious. It’s also a sign about all the things Pillar does right on and off the field.

7. While the Mets offensive onslaught felt great, especially the day after the Mets were blown out, some of the joy was taken out of it because it happened against Matt Harvey.

8. At this moment, David Peterson is not an MLB caliber starting pitcher, and it’s unfair to him to keep putting him in a position to fail.

9. No, the Mets don’t have a real answer in Triple-A, and it is going to be tough to navigate this next stretch, but when Peterson has given you 3.0 innings over the last two starts, he’s not going to help you.

10. The Mets desperately need Robert Gsellman to be good. As we saw, when he isn’t, games get way out of hand.

11. The best way for the Mets to navigate things going forward is to get starts like they did from Taijuan Walker.

12. There’s something to be said for Walker and McKinney, two once highly regarded prospects who haven’t lived to expectations, starting to look like the players we thought they would become under Luis Rojas.

13. This is getting way to ahead of ourselves, but McKinney just has this vibe right now where he’s just going to have a really big moment this postseason.

14. McKinney and Ty Kelly are doppelgängers.

15. It was hard to take Ron Darling seriously yesterday when he didn’t have Jacob deGrom atop his pitcher power rankings. In fact, it’s hard to take MLB Network seriously as Darling wasn’t the only one.

16. The baseball card shtick in blowouts works, and Darling and Gary Cohen trading an Andres Gimenez card for a Francisco Lindor was pretty clever.

17. It’s actually amusing the Mets had a game where Alonso and Dominic Smith were both in the lineup and neither played first base.

18. The replay system has become a complete and utter joke. They can’t even manage to get clearly blown calls overturned.

19. Nobody is talking about him, but Cedric Mullens is a phenomenal baseball player who put on a show against the Mets. The All-Star Game is at its best when it gives a player like him a stage to introduce himself to the world, and it’ll be great to see that next month.

20. MLB can keep the Mets down in the power rankings all they want. This is still a first place team.

Game Recaps

Mets Loss Was for the Birds

Mets Deep Six Orioles

Mets Deep Six Orioles

The New York Mets got beaten up last night, but tonight, they returned the favor in a 14-1 win. The only downside was the bulk of the damage came against Matt Harvey, who the Mets pushed closer to getting DFA’d.

Pete Alonso opened the scoring with a two run homer in the first. The Mets then put five up against Harvey in the third highlighted by a Kevin Pillar three run homer.

Harvey wouldn’t pitch past the third, and Taijuan Walker was dominant. Walker pitched 7.0 innings allowing one run on five hits and one walk while striking out nine.

As for the Mets, they just keep on hitting. The best way to show how dominant they were is to just show the batting stats from the game:

  1. Jonathan Villar 2-5, 2 R, 2 2B
  2. Francisco Lindor 1-3, R, BB
  3. Pete Alonso 3-5, 3 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI
  4. Dominic Smith 0-5
  5. James McCann 2-4, 2 R, 2B, BB, RBI
  6. Billy McKinney 3-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI
  7. Kevin Pillar 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI
  8. Mason Williams 2-4, R, HR, RBI
  9. Jose Peraza 0-4

Overall, the Mets hit six homers. That included Pillar and Williams going back-to-back in the eighth. Believe it or not, that was the first time it’s happened this year.

The Mets end their road trip and season series with the Orioles. They are now primed to go home and send another statement to the San Diego Padres.

Game Notes: Mets were 5-4 on the nine game road trip.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Sweep Orioles

After sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks, the New York Mets swept the Baltimore Orioles to complete a perfect 5-0 homestand:

1. What’s the over/under on game winning RBI Patrick Mazeika gets before finally collecting his first Major League hit?

2. Mazeika is the first player with two walk-off RBI in his first four games, and it’s been well over a century before someone had multiple walk-offs before a hit.

3. Mazeika is why Old Timer’s Days are great. Some random player who most of baseball history will overlook gets to come back to a huge ovation and be treated like a legend.

4. That sentiment may apply perfectly to Mike Baxter.

5. Players and plays like this are a testament that you need contributions from up and down your roster. The Mets are getting that and then some right now.

6. Certainly, it helps the Mets experienced those injuries during a soft spot in their schedule. Then again, in years past when they didn’t have players like Kevin Pillar on the bench, they would fall completely apart anyway.

7. One annoying GKR trait is when a player like Pillar makes a good defensive play, they’ll mock defensive metrics.

8. We can talk about a number of reasons why the Mets are doing well, but defense is front and center. This has gone from a dreadful defensive team to a top 12 team.

9. When you’re playing good defense, your pitching can shine, and you only need four runs per game. When the Mets hit that mark, they’re 15-2.

10. If Jeff McNeil really only had cramps, and this front office has actually been upfront about injuries, the Mets dodged a huge bullet.

11. Albert Almora‘s collision with the wall is one of the scariest you’ll see. And yes, he did catch that ball.

12. It’s amazing after all the years of Jeff Wilpon laying waste to careers like Pedro Martinez, Ryan Church, Jason Bay, and many more with his playing doctor, people like Buster Olney only now take issue with the Mets handling injuries with Jacob deGrom landing on the IL.

13. We’re truly living in bizarre times when deGrom is on the IL, and Matt Harvey is pitching at Citi Field.

14. Harvey deserved each and every one of those standing ovations, and it was wonderful to hear how much it meant to him. Certainly, he meant the world to us.

15. Dominic Smith has started hitting again, and not a moment too soon with that clutch game tying RBI.

16. Contrary to previously held beliefs, Michael Conforto is indeed clutch.

17. Taijuan Walker continues to pitch great, and he’s probably been the best free agent starter. That said, he embarrasses the game of baseball when he doesn’t even try at the plate.

18. Marcus Stroman continues to be phenomenal both on the mound and as a fielder. As we’ve seen, he’s an even better teammate.

19. With deGrom, Stroman, and Walker, the Mets have three of the top seven in ERA.

20. The sting of Jarred Kelenic getting called up and the sheer stupidity of all things Brodie Van Wagenen will dull if the Mets keep playing like this.

Game Recaps

Patrick Mazeika With Another Walk-Off

Matt Harvey’s Sad Return

Matt Harvey Sad Return

Matt Harvey came back to pitch at Citi Field for the first time as a visitor. While he received multiple deserved ovations, he was greeted quite rudely.

Kevin Pillar hit a two run triple in the second, and things went precipitously downhill from there for Harvey. After a Jose Peraza RBI single, it was 3-0 Mets.

In the third, Francisco Lindor hit a leadoff single, and he’d steal second with two outs. He’d come home to score on a Dominic Smith RBI single.

Harvey rebounded with a scoreless fourth, but the Mets would knock him out in the fifth.

Jonathan Villar led off the inning with a single, and he’d steal second. He’d then score on a one out RBI single by Michael Conforto. After Harvey walked Pete Alonso, Harvey was taken out of the game, and he was treated to another standing ovation.

Harvey was responsible for the two on base, and Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong would let them both score. First, it was a Dominic Smith RBI double. Peraza would get his second RBI single giving the Mets a 7-0 lead.

Unsurprisingly, that was all the support Taijuan Walker needed as he was again excellent. Through seven innings, he allowed just one run on four hits and three walks while striking out four.

As good as the offense and Walker was, the Mets defense might’ve been better.

Overall, this was an all-around effort for the Mets. What made the 7-1 win all the more impressive is it came from the bench, or Bench Mob, as they have been dubbed.

The Mets have completed consecutive sweeps, and they have now won seven in a row. While the NL East is still fighting it, the Mets are taking off.

Game Notes: Jeff McNeil was available off the bench after dealing with cramps. Albert Almora landed on the IL, and Khalil Lee was called up. Drew Smith made his season debut pitching a scoreless inning.

Happy Harvey Day Returns

From the first time he took the mound with the New York Mets, Matt Harvey was special. You could see it. It was more than just the great stuff. He had the build and demeanor to be one of the best pitchers we have ever seen. In 2013, he would be so good where he would not only be in the running with Clayton Kershaw for the Cy Young Award, we would hear him start to be compared to Tom Seaver.

There was the bloody noses. The time he almost had a perfect game against the Chicago White Sox. There was moment after moment until he had to undergo Tommy John surgery.

Harvey would return from that, and he would return to being a top of the rotation caliber starter. Yes, there would be some drama caused when his agent Scott Boras asked the Mets to honor their agreement over the innings limits, but despite that, Harvey would pitch. Harvey pitched where Stephen Strasburg once did not, which at the time only seemed fitting considering the “Harvey’s Better!” chants which echoed across Citi Field.

Harvey was great in the postseason. He won a pivotal Game 3 in the NLDS. He was lights out in Game 1 of the NLCS setting the stage for a Mets sweep of the Chicago Cubs. His performance in Game 5 of the World Series was one of the best pitching performances in Mets history. He and the Mets would come THIS CLOSE to pulling it off.

From there, things went bad, really bad. We don’t need to recall all the drama. In the end, what really mattered was Harvey had TOS. It would cost him almost all of 2016, and it would cost him his chances of once again being that ace. It would lead to him being designated for assignment from the Mets, which led to him being traded for Devin Mesoraco.

After seemingly reclaiming something with the Cincinnati Reds, he would get a free agent deal with the Los Angeles Angels. After 12 starts, he would be released, and Harvey would try to catch on somewhere. He would finish that season in the Oakland Athletics farm system, but they showed no interest in calling him up. During the pandemic season, Harvey signed on and flamed out with the Kansas City Royals.

What the real story is with Harvey is this is a guy who continued to work hard. Where even the strongest willed people would’ve justifiably retired, Harvey just keep working trying to find his way back to a Major League rotation again. He did everything conceivable, and he would leave no stone unturned. That led to him signing with the Baltimore Orioles and earning his spot onto their Opening Day roster.

Through seven starts this season, Harvey is 3-2 with a 3.60 ERA, 1.286 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, and a 6.4 K/9. No, this is not the Harvey we knew and loved. And yet, this is still a good Major League starter who is putting up a 118 ERA+.

Because of that, we are going to get to see Harvey take the same mound where he first brought hope to Mets fans after the Madoff Ponzi scheme. He’s going to take the mound where he started the 2013 All-Star Game and where he dominated in the 2015 postseason. He is going to take the mound in Citi Field, but this time as a visitor.

Harvey did more and went through far more than anyone could’ve imagined. It will be tough to see him facing the Mets, but as a Mets fan, you can’t help but root for him. Orioles uniform or not, seeing Harvey on the Citi Field mound makes this a great day. In fact, we can once again celebrate and say “Happy Harvey Day!”

Marcus Stroman Is Pitching, What’s Your Complaint Now?

As has been the case with him over the past year (probably longer), Marcus Stroman has been a lightning rod for criticism. In terms of the New York Mets, it began when he opted out of the 2020 season, but there’s a possibility it began sooner than that.

In terms of that, Stroman was open and honest he was afraid of the outbreaks in Miami and St. Louis, and he had family members who were high risk. Rather than accept his explanation, people opted to read malice into his decision.

Since that point, Stroman signed the qualifying offer, has worked to develop a new pitch, and he has been just about as enthusiastic a Mets fan as there is. Yes, every action he has taken has indicated he is every bit the Mets fan he was like the day he was at Citi Field for Johan Santana‘s no-hitter.

This is a pitcher who not only believes in himself, but he believes in his teammates. He openly speaks about how Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball. He talks about the talent on the roster. He talk about how great the Mets are. Really, if you look at Stroman, he pushes positivity and belief in not just himself, but also his teammates.

Still, like we saw in 2020, Stroman is going to make decisions which are good for him and his career. After seeing how Matt Harvey‘s career has transpired, we should have learned by now that’s not being selfish, but also, smart. The best ability you can give your team is availability, and if you hit the IL because you unnecessarily pushed it, you’re no longer available.

After the ridiculous decision to start the game against the Miami Marlins which was then suspended due to rain, Stroman announced his frustration he was not available again for five more days. He put in all that work, and it was all for naught. Of course, people opted to take that as Stroman being selfish and not team-first.

As an aside, the reason the Mets did not go with a six man rotation this year was because deGrom voiced his objections. Like all starting pitchers, deGrom is a creature of routine, and he didn’t want anything messing with his routine. What’s interesting is when this was Harvey, he was vilified, and for Stroman, when he said he wanted to stick to his routine, he was criticized.

Well, now, Stroman threw a bullpen session, and he declared himself good to pitch in the doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies. Once again, Stroman is stepping up and helping the team. He is doing it when few pitchers would be willing to pitch on one day’s rest.

Now that he is doing that, the people who refuse to embrace him, need to find another reason to criticize him. Better yet, instead of going that route, they should probably embrace him and acknowledge they’re getting to see not just one of the best pitchers in baseball, but also a positive individual who only seeks to build up everyone around him.