Planning for the Postseason


Thanks again to Joe Petruccio for the image above. Joe sums up our feelings in a joyous image worth a thousand words. Check out Joe’s brilliant daily Mets paintings on his Facebook page and his Instagram is @joey_paints

Thanks also to the New York Mets… They’ve exceeded even my overly optimistic expectations and Daring Dan Capwell stands above 99.9% of experts that thought the Nats would win the division. Bravo, Cappy!

The 2015 season has been marked by a series of right turns that could have gone terribly wrong. It seems each time the Mets faced a challenge, they kicked on harder than before.

Noah Syndergaard and Colon’s fast start filled the void created by Wheeler. Matz gave the Mets a brief jolt in the arm. Uribe socked a few and Wilmer did too. Cespedes socked a bunch and a rally parakeet came to celebrate. Colon came up big in September, and Wright and d’Arnaud came back as good as before. Now Matt Harvey has joined the pack… making his own turn towards pitching full time again. Will it be the right one? It seems so. The crazy 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle of a Mets season has fallen into place.

Meanwhile, the Nats have fallen apart. I still look at the Nats’ roster and I’m nonplussed at their failure. They struggled with the mantle of favourites, but why? Did they get lazy? Or arrogant? Forgive some of my schadenfreude at Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon tussling in the pen. Both revelled too much in victory and are struggling with defeat. Harper has at least tried to become gracious while Papelbon has become a powder keg. Ah… just be Mets fans, guys, it’ll toughen you up.

The Mets launch into the week with both their A and B teams shellacking the Reds over this weekend. The Reds looked terrible (at least Uncle Terry’s crews always try until the end) with lazy swings and comedically bad defense from Joey Votto and Ivan De Jesus.

So it’s time for the Mets to plot their postseason course and their series against the Dodgers. I’ve focused on my postseason roster, not the obvious one. Feel free to disagree. Even I’m torn over a few wildcard picks…

Starting Pitching

1. Jacob deGrom
2. Noah Syndergaard
3. Matt Harvey
4. Steven Matz

How does it look?

Half of the postseason teams would still kill for this rotation. I love the power arms and Matz’s upside. There’s even the added bonus that they can all hit.
It makes sense, especially if the Mets get home field advantage, to stick Syndergaard in the second game despite his better run on the road recently. I also remain worried about the possibility of Harvey’s innings limits raising some problem, so this would add a small Linus-sized safety blanket. If the Mets win to 1 in any series, Harvey only pitches once.

Any wildcards?

There’s a possibility that Colon might get the pick over Matz. The option of Niese seems highly unlikely as he’s getting tryouts in the pen over the next week. I’m glad about that.
Matz is a lefty and I have other plans for Bartolo Colon. And they don’t involve putting his feet up with a cigar and a tub of Jolly Ranchers.


RHP Jeurys Familia
RHP Tyler Clippard
RHP Addison Reed
RHP Logan Verrett
RHP Bartolo Colon
LHP Sean Gilmartin
LHP Jonathon Niese

How does it look?

I’m still worried about Robles and his tendency to flip out. So I was torn between Robles and Verrett, who’s a little underrated because he doesn’t gas it as much as Robles.
My theory? Verrett’s best pitch is a nasty circle change/fosh and that will contrast more with the Mets starters. If Verrett pitches, it will be in the fifth or sixth inning off the back of a poor start. The same holds true of Colon, because he can fill long relief and would be stark contrast against the flame-throwing starters. He’s also a cross between Valium and a pitcher, and would be utterly unconcerned by pressure.
I think the Mets need to carry two lefties and I like Gilmartin more than most fans. He’s a good LOOGY and he won’t hurt you much.
By having Niese, Colon and Verrett you’re also pretty safe with only 7 relievers. And I want me a pinch runner to boost the Mets in later innings…

Any wildcards?

It’s pretty easy to make a case for Erik Goeddel and Hansel Robles.
I’d pick Goeddel over Robles if Niese can’t pitch out of the bullpen. Why? Robles flies open under pressure and leaves his fastball high. And without his quick pitch, he’s lost a major weapon — both in winding up the opposition and in getting outs.
Poor Bobby Parnell (still injured) and Eric O’Flaherty (who seems to have forgotten how to pitch) shouldn’t stand a chance.


C Travis d’Arnaud
C Kevin Plawecki
1B Lucas Duda
2B Daniel Murphy
IF Juan Uribe (if fit) IF Ruben Tejada (if Uribe’s injured)
IF/OF Kelly Johnson
SS Wilmer Flores
3B David Wright

How does it look?

Despite d’Arnaud’s recent struggles, that’s a nice selection. I’ve already said I’d start Johnson at 2B against righties and Uribe at 2B against lefties, but I doubt that will happen.
Why have Murph as the lefty off the bench? In a positive way, he likes the big occasion. But, above all, he’s a lousy defender and the Mets opponents won’t whiff and pop-out as much as the Reds, Phillies, Marlins, Braves and the other little league teams the Mets have beaten up on. I’ve also picked a bunch of groundball pitchers in the bullpen.

Any wildcards?

The question here is what happens if Uribe isn’t ready to go.
It’s a little worrying because 5/8 of the starting line-up (Granderson, Murphy, Duda, Conforto, Cespedes) are weaker against lefties… so it feels like you need to plug the hole with a right handed bat. Dilson Herrera is a real option for me, as much as Ruben Tejada.
Why no Tejada on my roster? Look, when is he going to play? What does he offer? It certainly isn’t speed (I’ve got that covered), his defense is ok but he’s simply a backup if Wilmer gets injured. Wilmer is facing THREE left handed starters, and he crushes them. Johnson can backup if Wilmer strains a muscle celebrating a walk-off homer off a lefty.


Curtis Granderson
Michael Conforto
Yoenis Cespedes
Juan Lagares
Michael Cuddyer
Eric Young Jr.

How does it look?

The worry is — of course — how they’ll hit against lefties. Uncle Terry will stick by Grandy against lefties — and I know he hit a home run on Saturday against a LHP — but he’s been dreadful against them in 2015. Lagares could fill the lead-off role for at least one game of the Mets three starts against Dodgers lefties. I know his arm is shot but he still has the leg speed to cover a lot of ground in center, and it gives the Mets the freedom to sub out Michael Cuddyer for defense.
Eric Young Jr. isn’t exactly the primo option when it comes to defense, but he can hold his own. I think he’s a must-have as a pinch runner in late-and-close games to get Cuddyer, d’Arnaud, Murph or Duda off the bases. He can also fill in on the IF in a (very) long game.

Any wildcards?

With this one, it’s more a case of who they might NOT take.
I’m working on the basis that the Mets carry a 7-man bullpen. If they take 8, then it’s bye-bye to Juan Lagares or Eric Young Jr. In both cases I think that would be a crying shame.


The Dodgers are limping somewhat, with both lefties behind Grienke and Kershaw struggling.
The pitching line-ups are practically a wash. The Dodgers have the better 1-2, while the Mets have the better 3-4. But it’s all extremely close.
I like the Mets offense due to its versatility and I like the way they’ve tried to handle the Dodgers staff this year. And the Newest New York Mets lineup more than holds it own against the Dodgers.

Bold Prediction Time

It wouldn’t be a Mets Today post if I didn’t set myself up to look stupid in a few weeks.
But my cold, hard opinion is Mets win it 3-1.
As it looks like CFPunk is walking away with the Mets Win-O-Meter, it’s time for us to prove our worth in the post-season. I also need to recoup some money after losing on my 86-88 win spread bet.
What do you think the Mets postseason roster will be? And what will be the outcome of the Dodgers series?
Don’t forget, it takes Bartolo Colon sized cajones to do that a week before the regular season is even over.


Sustainable Success or a Blip on the Radar?

2015 NL East Champs. Let that sink in for a moment. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Remember, it was called here first.

Little known fact: this is only the second time in their history that the Mets went from below .500 in one year to a division winner the next. You may have heard of the 1969 season, which was the only other  time they did this. In fact, the 3rd place 1972 Mets actually had a better winning percentage (albeit in a strike-shortened 156-game season) than their next year’s division winners did. Only the Mets, folks.

Division titles are a rarity in these parts, five of ’em in the last 45 years to be exact. So the question becomes, do we have to wait another nine years for the next one, or can the Mets actually win back-to-back division titles? More than likely, they will be the 2016 preseason favorites to do so, but these predictions will come from the same sources that figured the Washington Nationals would be the runaway divisional winners this year. So, can the Mets actually repeat this somewhat surprising success of this year? There’s a three-part answer to this question.

The first is obvious: the Mets’ young arms must stay healthy. It was hard to swallow, but the limiting of Matt Harvey’s innings was done with the coming years in mind. Matt is a Met for at least three more seasons and it would be a shame to lose any more of this service time to injury. A fully-healthy and ready for 200 innings Harvey is a key to a long run at the top for the Mets. At some point, the Mets will have to choose between Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz as to who they will invest in and who will be allowed to walk away. Based purely on age, I’d bet they keep the latter two, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Parts two and three of the answer are closely related.

It seems like a long time ago now, but before this past July 31, the Mets pointed to a pipeline of young talent that they touted as being able to keep them at or near the top of the NL East in the coming seasons. Much of it has been stripped away, sacrificed on the altar of a postseason berth this year. And what a payoff: the big “get” has been Yoenis Cespedes, perhaps the greatest in-season acquisition the club has made since getting Keith Hernandez back in 1983, if not ever. In what can only be termed as Amazin’, Cespedes put the Mets on his back and the team zoomed past the hapless Nationals en route to their first NL East crown since 2006. Cespedes is will probably be the runner up NL MVP, but the winner of that award will be on the golf course while Yoenis’ team plays on.

Now for the rub: Cespedes’ surge is incredibly well-timed, as his contract expires at the end of this year. He is due for a big payday and the Mets pre-July 31st history indicates that they have little chance of resigning this dynamic player, as most pundits expect him to earn between a $140M and $170M deal.

Re-signing Cespedes (part two) is directly related to part three, which depends on the Mets still fertile, if somewhat mature, conveyor belt of talent to supply them with enough cheap and serviceable alternatives at other spots to absorb this monster salary.  These alternatives have names: Michael Conforto, Dilson Herrera, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Hansel Robles, Dario Alvarez and Logan Verrett, among others.

The Mets began 2015 with $33M earmarked for Bartolo Colon, Daniel Murphy, Bobby Parnell, Dillon Gee, Jerry Blevins and Jenrry Mejia. All of them can be allowed to walk, as each can replaced by the candidates mentioned in the previous paragraph. Colon and Murph in particular have given the Mets some big moments during this stretch drive, but such is the cruel nature of baseball. The players today have the freedom that their counterparts 40 years ago fought hard for, but this freedom means loyalty has gone out the window. You can only stay if you work for cheap, unless you are a superstar like Cespedes. I’d consider offering Murphy a QO, but only if I felt sure that he would rather explore the market for a long-term deal. They can pocket a draft pick in this scenario. They’ll need to draft smart these next two/three years. Poor drafts where the hidden causes of the collapse of the late 80’s and 90’s playoff teams.

For argument’s sake, let’s say that Cespedes gets $160M for six years. That makes him the team’s $26 Million Dollar Man.  Given the rate of inflation in baseball salaries, that could be a relative bargain sooner than you might think. The money coming off from Colon, Murphy, etc. covers the first year.

Of their other July pickups, I think they can let Tyler Clippard and Juan Uribe walk, but should keep Addison Reed (arbitration) and re-sign the relatively inexpensive Kelly Johnson. Reed gets the 8th inning, while Robles, Alvarez, Sean Gilmartin, Goeddel, Verrett and Josh Edgin jockey for roles in pen. The beauty of this is that all of these arms have big league experience and at least a modicum of success.  KJ can be the left handed bat off the bench as well as Herrera’s caddy. Don’t forget the Mets still have Juan Lagares, the 2014 gold glove centerfielder, signed to a relatively team friendly contract. Plenty of teams looking to get younger, faster and more athletic should be lining up at the door with offers for Lagares that could fill any gaps that open as next season wears on. Any bets on Clippard and Blevins being back in Washington next year?

More of a stretch, but in 2017 Smith replaces Lucas Duda and Rosario replaces Rueben Tejada. Farfetched? Smith was the 2015 FSL MVP, while Rosario  finished this year in Double-A. Jon Niese and Michael Cuddyer and their combined his $21M are gone after next year, while Curtis Granderson and his  $15M is gone after 2017. David Wright’s contract drops his salary to “only” $15M after 2018, so even after the pitcher’s salaries begin to skyrocket at the end of the decade, the Mets have other big money contracts either coming off the books or costing them less money. Smith and Rosario become the low-money guys at the same time that Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores start to hit arbitration. The same trade winds that blew Lagares out of town may end up moving Wilmer as well.

So, yes, the Mets can repeat. The bigger question is what the Wilpons will do. They should brace for at least a  25% payroll increase in the coming years. Is a division championship (at the very least) enough to justify the cost? They claim to love the team and must be reveling in this recent success. Seeing Cespedes walk has been viewed by some as a potential doomsday scenario. I can think of a worse one: the Mets lose Cespedes only to toss mega-millions at one of the lesser outfielder types like Alex Gordon to compensate. Remember the Kevin Appier fiasco?

All of this is getting a bit ahead, don’t you think? Enjoy the victory lap next week and get ready for some Divisional Playoffs! Lets Go Mets!


Mets Game 151: Loss To Braves


Mets 2, Braves 6

This lazy game went south after the Braves scored four against Logan Verrett in the fifth. Verrett pitched well enough but sank after being struck for two home runs. The second followed an intentional walk to the “big threat” of Nick Markakis. Coincidentally Markakis has had two homers ALL YEAR. Hey ho, Uncle T.

Tyler Clippard continued his worrying recent troubles by giving up another couple of runs in the ninth. Clippard will be fine, and it wasn’t a lousy pitch. His change-up still looks decent and that will be his go-to pitch in the offseason.

Offensively, David Wright drove a homer to right center and continues to get on base. He’s a perfectly fine number 2 hitter. Meanwhile, Daniel Murphy had a couple of doubles but I don’t think he’s the answer in the three-hole. The Mets have been laboring to score runs for a week or so. You have to hope the pressure of being so close to the offseason isn’t getting to them.

Hmm… I still think they’ll be fine this year. Out of the remaining games only 3 are against a MLB team. My guess is they’ll go 5-6… and that’ll be comfortably enough to win the NL East.

Of more pressing concern in the Mets line-up for the series with the Dodgers. With a killer righty in Zack Greinke and a killer lefty in Clayton Kershaw coming up, the Mets will need to get their batting order aligned correctly.

Here are my ideal line-ups. Yep, I know Terry won’t follow what I think. For one thing, his favourite son is missing. But feel free to list your own line-ups in the comments section. If we bribe Uncle Terry with enough Werther’s Originals maybe he’ll listen.

Mets Vs. RHP

RF Granderson
3B Wright
CF Cespedes
1B Duda
LF Conforto
2B Johnson
C d’Arnaud
SS Flores
P Some pitcher trying to hit (and usually doing ok)

The big choice here was dumping Daniel Murphy to the bench. Think positively. He’ll LOVE striding out with the game on the line and seeing how many 3-2 balls he can foul away.

Murph could fit at both second or first… if you have more faith in him than I do. Lucas Duda continues to look out of sync – yet another loopy fly to left tonight – but I like his defense more. And when The Dude hits a ball it stays hit.

Will Duda revel in the pressure of the offseason lights? I hope we’ll find out. Murphy has a much-vaunted “clutch” status, partly because he freezes so long after getting a hit that it’s hard to forget it. He’s taken this approach further on the basepaths, staring like a rabbit in the headlights to watch a botched double play before getting thrown out last night. I preferred Murphy’s startled sheep tactic.

Yes, Murph has got a good record with runners in scoring position this year. But his clutch defense ain’t so great. Kelly Johnson is just as good a hitter as Murph with runners in scoring position, Johnson has a little more power, Johnson’s defense is better (it’s not great, but it’s not hard to overtake Murph) and Johnson also doesn’t suffer brain farts. I’m plumping for Johnson to go big, much as it would offend Murph.

Mets Vs. LHP

CF Lagares
3B Wright
RF Cespedes
C d’Arnaud
2B Uribe
SS Flores
1B Cuddyer
LF Conforto
P Some pitcher trying to hit (they’re really not bad… even Colon didn’t clonk himself in the head this year and he’ll be pitching out of the bullpen)

The Mets have tried Lagares out of the leadoff spot before and it does make sense. The problem is that Lagares has struggled in 2015 but – much as it pains me – he’s still a better option than Grandy. Granderson’s corkscrew stance and off-kilter head angle make it incredibly hard to hit lefties. Let’s take a punt with Lagares and pop Corforto in left. At least Conforto’s ability to hit the other way might get more success, and his surprisingly strong defense doesn’t hurt.

I doubt Uncle Terry will take this option, of course. Curtis Granderson has done a fantastic, mature job out of the leadoff role this year… but he’s TERRIBLE against lefties. Terry, please save the Grandyman for later. Think it through and just get him straight back in the game as soon as the LHP starter retires to his ice wrap.

Once again, there’s no Murph. But I have my reasons. Uribe’s uppercut swing has become almost comical, but he’s had plenty of extra base hits and he’s a WAY better second baseman than Murph. Predestination means Murph will sock a key home run coming off the bench anyway.

Cruddy over Duda at first is just the lesser of two evils right now. And you can sub in Duda along with Grandy when the relief pitchers kick in. I’m baffled both Duda and Grandy don’t open their stance more against lefties to counteract the change in angle. Have a chat with Keith, guys.

11 games to go. I hope the Mets don’t limp over the line, but a one-legged hop is fine if that’s what it takes. The innings limits, the bone bruises, and the memories of past failures just make me want the regular season to end. Then, hopefully, the fun will begin again.


Mets Game 143: Win Over Braves


Mets 10 Braves 7

It’s possible to get to the stage where you forget how to lose. Somehow that drags you along, as unlikely as it all seems. Donald Trump is making a damn good fist of the same idea.

The Mets’ surge – and yet another comeback win on the road – has rescued their away record to 37-37. How unlikely was that six weeks ago? Thank goodness the Mets instituted the MetsMobile idea I offered up way back in my report on Game 77. Whether the Mets wrestle home field advantage from the Dodgers or not, the MetsMobile will guarantee the sounds and tastes and smells of good ol’ Citi Field. Couple that with the help of Caesar, sorry Cespedes, they’ll be fine.

Now the Mets are 82-61, CFPunk is looking like a genius and the Mets-o-Meter is overtaking more and more folks. Cappy, Dan B, Jack S and Joe are now officially out of it. Argonbunnies and Ernesto are next up. You’d be hard pressed to find a more logical and informed group of baseball fans. But this has been an illogical season and the baffling Mets’ comebacks keep on coming. For my bank account, just please stop at 88. I’m poor, ok?

Today’s game was a drab Sunday afternoon affair with bloop hits, a secondary Mets line-up and lazy defense. Even Curtis Granderson’s shades couldn’t help him from losing a pop-up in the sun. Scored a hit (!!!) it put the Double AAtlanta Braves up 7-4 in the eighth. I guess I’d score it a hit too if Grandy gave me a signed photo. I’m easily bribed. Like I said, I’m just poor… I’m not Pete Rose.

These Braves are adept at losing games and they somehow manufactured another one here. With 2 outs in the ninth, Juan Lagares was on base with a “double” to rightish-center that was only a little less of an error than Grandy’s gaff. Grandy atoned by taking yet another walk to put two on base. I’ll save gushing about how great he’s been hitting leadoff for another post.

Up stepped Daring Daniel Murphy and he plunked a home run off a 0-1 pitch to deep right center. Cue exploding high fives to everyone he could find, complete with sounds effects from Murph.

The Braves continued to implode with walks in the top of the 10th and the lousy game was mercifully over. The sighs of relief in the SNY box were audible.

The Nats have done their own imploding for a while, despite their 5-zip win today against the MiAAmi Marlins, so it’s time to talk about the playoffs. This week, let’s look at the Mets’ starting pitching.

Jonathon Niese has been struggling recently and he didn’t look great today against a team of little leaguers fortified by Andrelton Simmons and Freddie Freeman. Niese’s curve is just looping in, usually in the centre and not low enough. Niese’s fastball (and it’s a bit of stretch to call it that) isn’t cutting as much as when he’s at his best. His WHIP is now 1.41.

I like Niese but I don’t know where he fits on the postseason roster. It’s been made public that the Mets don’t like Niese out of the bullpen. I prefer Sean Gilmartin in the long-man leftie role anyway.

You HAVE to take Bartolo into the playoffs. Not only will he happily distribute candy to the team, but Colon will always throw strikes in a relief role, and – despite his terrible record against good teams – he could spot start in a jam (eg. Harvey’s ligaments fall off) and not let the occasion get to him. Hitters tighten up in the playoffs and Bartolo’s steady stream of strikes will get a bunch of pop-ups. Niese’s reputation is that the big games get to him. Hmm… I’d take Colon’s matador spirit and the young guns over that.

My current playoff rotation is DeGrom – Syndergaard – Harvey – Matz. Is Matz too young for the role? I dunno… you tell me. I just feel Matz is a better bet than Niese, much as Jonathon has been a dutiful servant through the horrible years.

Shoot with your thoughts below. Next week we’ll look at the lineup. Then in a fortnight we’ll tackle the most difficult issue… figuring out the best bullpen for the Mets to continue this wonderful, stupid, amazin’, crazy, fun run.


Mets Game 139: Playoffs? Playoffs? Playoffs!!!

20150910_120915 (2)

Well, now it’s official: the 2015 Mets have entered that rarefied air that only a handful of previous Mets teams have ever experienced. They are an “it” team, on one of those magical runs that comes along all too infrequently in team history. This shot, taken in a sporting goods store in Easton, PA, which is normally the intersection of Yankee and Phillies territories, tells you all you need to know. A fellow Mets fan remarked to me that they must have had that stuff in storage for years!

As for the game itself, the Mets weathered superlative performances from Bryce Harper (2 HRs, 12 total bases) and Steven Strasburg (13Ks). Like a patient boxer taking a few jabs, the Mets waited until Washington lowered their guard ever so slightly and then struck hard, with homers from Kelly Johnson and Yoenis Cespedes. In a matter of seconds it seemed, the Washington Nationals where flat on their backs, staring up at the lights, contemplating plans to make tee times for early October.

Much has been written about the Mets July additions of Cespedes, Juan Uribe and Tyler Clippard. Johnson has been somewhat easy to overlook, but he has been Terry Collins’ secret weapon of sorts since his arrival. He is the epitome of “veteran presence” (read his comments about his approach against Strasburg last night) and his ability to play all over the place has allowed Collins to give a few guys a breather and/or avoid being overmatched. Wilmer Flores had a tough night against Strasburg, but Collins had the option of using Johnson instead of the 23-year old Flores in the 8th. In the 9th, Lucas Duda, Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto showed the Mets can also manufacture runs, combining to put a big insurance run on the board. Jeurys Familia did the rest. When I saw Matt den Dekker was the Nationals last hope, I knew the game was in the bag.

So, the Mets sweep Washington, opening a seven game lead with 23 left to play. Washington is nearly finished, their pitching staff is in disarray, their manager appears to have lost all confidence in himself and some of the team’s veterans look like they’ve quit. They really miss Clippard and Adam LaRoche, which is what I proffered here. The Mets buried the rest of the division with their hot April start, so we are looking at a virtual victory lap between now and the start of the NLDS on October 9, hopefully at Citi Field.

This is an epic time in team history and as a fan since 1971, I  am savoring every moment. The trades GM Sandy Alderson made in July should go down in Mets lore, as they completely altered the season’s (and maybe the franchise’s) trajectory. By the way, just how  smart is Mr. Moneyball, Billy Beane really? While his Oakland team flounders in last place, he can contemplate that in under a year, he traded away both the AL and NL MVPs.  Yes, I know, Cespedes probably won’t win it, but Harper will likely be watching, rather than playing baseball this October.

On a much more somber note, Friday marks the 14th anniversary of the horror that was September 11, 2001. Much water has passed under the bridge since then, but it’s a good opportunity to pause and reflect on the blessings that we do have in this life and to acknowledge the sacrifices of those who put themselves in harm’s way so we can enjoy things like baseball games.

Lets Go Mets!



Harvey: Two Sides Of The Same Coin


Thanks to Joe Petruccio for letting me use the image above. If you need cheering up after Tyler Clippard coughed up Sunday’s game or want to celebrate the Mets 8-5 win against the Nats today, please check out Joe’s daily Mets’ paintings at his Facebook page and his Instagram -– Joe never fails to deliver great stuff so it’s worth it.

The Nats pulled within four of the Mets yesterday, and going into the series we had the Matt Harvey incident. For the one or two of you that didn’t rant on Twitter after Harvey’s press conference, here’s your chance to discuss what you think in the comments below. Harvey’s up next, after all. How’s he going to respond?

Harvey’s always had a “side” to him and this has drawn attention to the bad one. I’ll plead the case for both sides of the scarred coin, and then lay out my thoughts at the end.

Good Harvey


The Mets wouldn’t be where they are in the division without Matt Harvey. Harvey has exceeded all my expectations by remaining largely healthy and pitching to a high standard. That’s some feat coming off the back of Tommy John surgery. Even Tommy John wasn’t as good in his first year back, and they named the surgery after him. Harvey is clearly a top 10 pitcher in the NL, and you could argue – through ERA – that he’s in the top 5. I prefer that to a full season of Dillon Gee.

Financially, Harvey is also vital to the Mets. Don’t forget that this guy is playing for close to the Major League minimum, and that he’s playing for a team who had the financial acumen of a four year old in a candy store. Harvey fills out Citi Field whenever he pitches and has been a boon to the tacky Batman mask industry. Putting up with a few sullen moods and comments from Harvey is easy when you have $ signs in your eyes. Do you think the Giants put up with Barry Bonds for his award-winning personality?

Popularity waxes and wanes, anyway. As soon as A-Rod started hitting homers in 2015, people groused a lot less. Harvey may have been a fraud, but at least he’s not a cheat. And, by backing down the next day and saying he’ll pitch in the offseason, my guess is Harvey will receive more cheers than jeers in Tuesday’s key game with the Nats.

Matt Harvey has often been right in the past too. In 2013, he (subtly) criticised the team’s lack of ambition and – according to some reports – he was pissed in 2014 when the Mets locked him in a training room rather than let him talk to the press about his injury. If he’s grousing more than that behind the scenes, it’s probably with good reason. Uncle Terry endears us with his shrivelled peanut face, but his umm… creative use of Eric O’Flaherty to a right hander in a tight game on Friday shows he’s still fallible. And, if you were Harvey, would you like to deal with Jeffy and Sandy behind the scenes? Me neither.

Yes, Harvey has a chip on his shoulder. It’s easy to tell from his hunched body language in the dugout and in press conferences. Meanwhile, Jacob DeGrom is all smiles and Bartolo Chuckles is throwing firecrackers and behind the back passes to catch a guy a first base.

Maybe Harvey doesn’t like some of his teammates? Or Uncle Terry? Or maybe it’s because lesser – albeit very fine – pitchers like Francisco Liriano are earning $11m plus. Harvey earns more than a comfortable salary and he’ll be making a mint from endorsements but don’t forget that Harvey is still a kid at 26, and he’s got plenty of testoterone surging around. He wants to maximise the money he can from his arm. You blow that out again and… well, you won’t be such a hit with the society gals in New York.

Finally, despite what some people think, Matt Harvey is not a doctor. 35% of pitchers who receive Tommy John twice don’t return to the majors. That’s some pretty big dice to roll.

Bad Harvey:


Hypocrisy is a word that’s bandied around too much. But we had a doozy here.

Harvey complained about the six man rotation and being forced to skip starts and then he seemed to be drawing a line at 180 innings with 13 2/3 innings left and a month to go? No wonder people were foaming at mouth. Why the hell wasn’t this figured out earlier? Why didn’t Harvey express this to the media at the start of the season – or even a month into it – and make it clear he (and his representatives) had a hard limit.

The other thing – nicely picked up on by a couple of ESPN writers – is that Harvey has pitched LESS than a lot of pitchers with similar amounts of innings. He’s been economical this year and averages less than 100 pitches per start. Unless you count trotting over to cover first base or craning your neck to watch a fly ball, I’d say pitches are a better gauge of arm fatigue.

The killer is Harvey has made his toughness vocal and bigged up his Dark Knight persona. He played the role of a gruff rebel with aplomb, fooling both the fans and the press. Never screw with fans, of course, and NEVER screw with the press. They’re ALWAYS looking for a chance to knock you down and they’re revelling in the “Joker” headlines. Smile and move on, Matt, and do a Wright or a Grandy or a DeGrom. It ain’t worth the hassle, and his backing down indicates he’s learnt that lesson.

It doesn’t help that Scott Boras – the unfortunate mix of human DNA with diarrhoea – has a mouth as big as a barn door and can accrue dollars as fast as the Wilpons can lose them. Boras knows the Mets won’t be able to pay the going rate for Harvey when he’s out of team control, so why not get him out of Dodge already? Boras doesn’t care that the Mets might get to the World Series… but he does care about protecting his investment.

Matt Harvey comes out of this smelling faintly of cowdung, because people hate a hypocrite. You can be an asshole and tell the truth and people grudgingly respect that. Harvey is ultimately paid by the fans – especially in terms of his endorsements. Popularity equals big bucks, and Harvey (perhaps temporarily) has screwed that up.

Lastly, the Mets are pretty good this year. The Royals were pretty good last year too. Look what happened to them. Harvey really could be on worse teams and – with a lack of a no-trade clause – he might end up on one elsewhere in 2016. If he’s grouchy here, imagine how much fun he’ll have in Colorado.

My Two Cents:


Like most people, I watched Harvey’s press conference with my mouth slowly opening and steam coming out of my ears. In amongst all the flim-flam, the not-so-hidden message was 180 innings was a hard limit. He dealt with the situation very poorly.

Since then, Harvey’s said he will pitch in the offseason and has been in contact with Sandy Alderson, who’s no stranger to flim-flamming himself.

Why didn’t all this discussion take place behind closed doors? I point the blame for that with Boras and Dr. Andrews, meaning Harvey had to respond to the details his advisors made public. But I’ve got a suspicion he initially chickened out and prompted them to make the comments, in a backfiring attempt to protect his macho image.

Harvey’s backdown quote also interested me with its careful wording:
“I love to play baseball, and I love winning even more. I would not give that up for anything. I also know I want to be able to play and win for a long time. But there has never been a doubt in my mind: I will pitch in the playoffs. I will be healthy, active and ready to go. I am communicating with my agent, my doctor, [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] and the entire Mets organization. I can assure everyone that we’re all on the same page.
“Together, we are coming up with a plan to reach an innings limit during the season,” he said. “It will be a compromise between the doctors and the Mets organization to get me, and the team, to where we need to be for our postseason run. I understand the risks. I am also fully aware of the opportunity the Mets have this postseason. Winning the division and getting to the playoffs is our goal. Once we are there, I will be there.”

I note he doesn’t say he loves the Mets and he did a great job of hiding his lack of doubt in pitching in the playoffs in the press conference. I have no doubt he didn’t want to go beyond the 180 innings limit and now has been forced to back down. Fan power, huh?

Post All-Star Break it’s been fun to ride the wave of Mets positivity and watch some good baseball. Of course, being a Mets fan you always suspect something weird or negative is around the corner. It’s a shame it kicked off with the Mets leading the East and the most important series coming up next… [[[Reader, insert the swear word of your choice here.]]]

What Will The Mets Do?


From the recent comments from Harvey it seems he’ll pitch twice – maybe three times if he has a short outing – more in the regular season. Then I believe they’ll make him the third starter in the offseason so he’ll only have to pitch once in the first series.

I’ve seen it mentioned that Harvey should be punitively put into the bullpen to fill out the seventh inning. I seriously doubt that will happen. He’ll lose value to the team in a trade and – if you want to keep him – will antagonise your second best pitcher.

My gut feeling is that the Mets won’t trade Harvey over the offseason. I think they should. Do you? He has serious value and the Mets will have a big hole in the outfield because Cespedes won’t be at Citi next year. Lagares will be facing his own Tommy John Surgery too. This year’s rentals have been great, but the Mets need to retool heavily for 2016.

The problem, as it always seems to come down to with the Mets, is money. Matt Harvey will still be affordable next year. And you get better bang for your buck – even with some other Rockies thrown in – than Carlos Gonzalez’s expensive contract and nagging injuries.

Urgh. It was all a standard Mets mess but let’s be positive… the frisson of excitement just makes Harvey’s start tomorrow all the more engaging.


Mets Game 131 Recap: The Class of 2014 Comes Through

Maybe there was a plan after all.

Last night 2014’s top draft pick Michael Conforto combined with Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon, the Mets two 2014 Free Agent pickups to give the Mets a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies last night. With the win and the Washington National’s 8-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, the Mets begin September with a 6 and 1/2 game lead over the Nats for the Eastern Division crown.

Colon was brilliant again last night, with eight shutout innings over the seemingly hapless Phils, striking out nine. His fifth inning single in front of Granderson’s 23rd homer of the season gave the Mets a 3-0 lead. Earlier in the same inning, Conforto blasted his fourth homer into the left field stands. The early returns on Conforto have been encouraging to say the least. No less of an authority than Keith Hernandez gushes over each at bat; although it must be remembered that Keith was also a big fan of Matt den Dekker.

Perhaps a signal moment occurred in the 9th inning, as Jeurys Familia gave up hits to the first two batters of the inning. Up to the plate strode Ryan Howard, one of the last vestiges of the Phils’ glory days. With one swing of the bat, Howard could have easily turned the entire game and perhaps the Mets season, around. Instead, Familia, channelling his inner John Franco, walked Howard to load the bases. He then induced ex-Met Jeff Francoeur to hit into a double play, scoring a run. Familia then just barely avoided a game tying homer to Andres Blanco before whiffing him for the final out.

Deep breath, deep breath. As I shared earlier, I have a superstitious streak in me when it comes to baseball and I do believe in omens. If the Mets are going to blow this lead, last night would have resulted in either Howard, Francoeur or Blanco hitting a game tying homer, followed by several innings of pure torture before a Phils win. Instead, Familia (who is probably the Mets MVP this year) was able to slam the door shut. Speaking of omens, this win on the last day of August tied the team record for wins in that month, which was set in 2000, the last year the Mets went to the World Series.

So, now we run the gauntlet of “meaningful games in September.” The schedule maker has certainly been kind to the Mets, but it is still incumbent on them to get the job done.  I like the fact that they are adding Steven Matz and Addison Reed to their somewhat beleaguered pitching staff. While they still have those Washington games, although almost all of the pressure is in the other dugout at this point, as that team has almost no room for error.

See you tonight.




Mets Game 130: Win Over Red Sox


Mets 5, Red Sox 4

Looking at the Mets-o-Meter, the optimists seem to be the realists… which is damn rare for Mets’ fans. And if the Mets win 87 games I get to win my 86-88 spread bet AND not shell out money for tacky merchandise prizes. Lets Go 87.

Two months ago, who woulda thunk Brook and Andy would be favourites to get the correct win total? CF Punk, who seemed loopy and is still in training for his MMA career, might take it all. Punk, you’re a smart guy. Izzy, who is loopy and can still be seen shouting from a soapbox, is the first man down. Izzy, we still miss you.

Today’s win over the Red Sox was a good one. The Red Sox illustrate the strength of the AL. They look like an ok team and yet they’re still in last place. Wade Miley has essentially the same stuff as Jonathan Niese – in fact, his fastball has more bite – but Miley has more than a half-run higher ERA. Hey ho, he doesn’t usually face pitchers. But maybe he’s looking forward to that again, after Noah Syndergaard laced the first RBI.

Syndergaard pitched a nice game but ended up giving up 4 earned runs. Uncle Terry decided to stretch him out into the seventh inning and Syndergaard started to rely too much on his fastball. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a ground-rule double to knock out Syndergaard on his 111th pitch, and then Mookie Betts had a strange bloop triple to plate Bradley.

I have no idea where Michael Cuddyer was on the play. The camera focussed on the ball landing and no-one was in shot. That went on for a while as Betts hared around the bases. Was Cuddy having a cigarette somewhere else?

Hansel Robles gave up the triple and also did a terrible job of keeping an eye on the runner on base. Even with my balky calves, I could steal third base off him. The addition of Addison Reed is a great one, but I’m nonplussed that Logan Verrett was demoted instead of Robles. Verrett’s tight slow change (I still think it’s a “Fosh”) beats Robles’ straight fastball, and I know who I’d prefer on a postseason roster.

It seems that the bullpen is the last nuance that needs to be figured out before the Dodgers on October 9th. Tyler Clippard continued to look meticulous in relief, using a fastball up and away to strike out Sandoval with the inherited runner on third. Jeurys Familia made things interesting in the ninth by letting the first two runners reach base. But then he started throwing an unhittable 96mph splitter and, with the tying run on third, he struck out Betts with a high 100mph fastball.

The combination of Clippard and Familia is flat-out nasty, and Sean Gilmartin is a great foil. You may think this guy is here for just one season, but he’s better than that. The contrast of the slower, more measured Clippard and Gilmartin dovetail well with all of the Mets hard-throwers. That will be all the more important when Matz returns this week. Robles can only be successful after Bartolo Colon or Jon Niese, because the change in speed makes the hitter uneasy.

Offensively the Mets were unlucky all night, but they still scraped together enough runs to win. There were a hell of a lot of lineouts and the umpire with the Marty Feldman eyes had a crazily wide strikezone. Curtis Granderson got caught looking at a couple of pitches clearly outside the plate. Luckily Marty’s eyes couldn’t look up and down, and that let Cuddy get a walk on a curve slightly higher but clearly over the plate. That freebie led to one of his two runs.

I’ve called Cuddy “Cruddy” but he had a great game at the plate. And I do like the guy. He’s an amiable cross between a coypu and a human and he’s been hitting well since his return from injury. He knocked in Daniel Murphy, who had stolen second base after a high throw from the Soxs’ rookie catcher. Just be careful with all the double fist punches, Murph. You might pull something and you’ve got free agency to worry about.

Juan Uribe, who I think is a must-sign for next year to replace Murph, had a couple of hits including a long double over the fast-footed Betts to plate Murph and Cuddy in the sixth. His upper cut swing is fun to watch and its success is testament to his quick hands. He looked fine at second too, diving to keep one hard grounder from reaching the outfield. Some sort of job-share between Tejada (whose defense was superb) and Flores in the middle infield can only help this team in 2016.

So on the Mets roll. They next face a Phillies team so emasculated that the SNY graphic has cute pink glowing neon around their “P” logo. And the Nationals? Well, they’ve got the Cardinals. Good luck, Bryce!

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