Free Matt Harvey

I don’t think we can question the poise and maturity of Matt Harvey after last night’s performance, in fact I came away quite impressed by his demeanor. Think about how he handled this start with the knowledge that his call up to the big leagues hangs in the balance with Mets exec J.P Riccardi at the ball park in Buffalo and Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins and Dan Warthen monitoring his performance via SNY. Make up wise Harvey, in my opinion is big league ready, ability wise could be debated.

If Dillon Gee were healthy we don’t have this discussion on whether Harvey is a big leaguer or not but with the prospect that Gee is done for the year, the Mets need a starter and when you look at the options, Matt Harvey stands out as the best of them.

Miguel Batista or Jeremy Hefner? No thank you. We’ve seen all we need to see of Batista who is still making a living off that last game of the year shutout over the Reds. If I had to pick between the two, I’d  go with Hefner but since Harvey is in the mix, I’d give Harvey the start on Saturday for sure.

Is Harvey ready for it? It seems it’s a question with many answers. Some folks are against bringing him up fearing a meltdown of some sorts, from what we’ve seen of Harvey from spring training to last night, I hardly think that will happen. Will an early promotion stunt his growth as a pitcher? That’s a great question that I can’t answer but what we know of Harvey is he has a passion to be a major leaguer and he loves to learn and will ask questions and work on his craft to achieve success.  My question is how will being on the big league roster with veteran pitchers like R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana, two guys who always make themselves available to young pitchers, hurt Matt Harvey? If anything I think he’s thrive in that environment.

I do worry about the enthusiasm level that Mets fans have for Harvey and Zack Wheeler as well.  Between the four game losing streak (7 loses in last 10 games as well) the awful bullpen and ineffective offense against left handed pitching; the fan base is headed toward meltdown mode. For the health and welfare of Mets fans everywhere, I hope the team can take two of three from the Nats.

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If Not Matt Harvey, Then Who ?

Looks like the Sandy Alderson regime has come to face its first real crisis of its reign with what looks like the season ending shoulder surgery that Dillon Gee will undergo. I call this a crisis because Gee’s ailment came out of nowhere and starting pitcher was not on Alderson’s shopping list.
So what’s a GM to do? It seems the last thing the Mets want to do is promote Matt Harvey to the big leagues because they would love to see some more consistency out him and the fact that he has a tendency to leave his fastballs up in the strike zone and in the big leagues that’s a batting practice pitch. Emotionally Harvey is ready and quite frankly he’d fit right into this Mets team as he is young and confident and an ex-teammate of many of the young Mets and besides what are the other options?
Alderson is on record as saying he will not trade a top prospect at the deadline so to getting Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster is out as that would be cost prohibitive in terms of players. Do pitchers like Paul Malholm or Kevin Millwood excite you? Didn’t think so.
It’s great that the Mets want to try to solve this unexpected problem without disrupting the development of a top prospect but sometimes you have no choice. Miguel Batista is clearly not the answer and Jeremy Heftner is like a dounut spare tire, he’s good once in a while for an emergency start or two but more than that you run a great risk of serious damage.
I would love to hear the talk going on in meetings today the Mets brass will have in Atlanta before that start of the second half starts tomorrow night, just to hear who is pro-Harvey and who’s not.

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Hey Sandy Alderson Go Get Your Friend Harvey

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So our All Star break was thrown into chaos yesterday and we can’t even blame this one on Tony LaRussa. When the news broke about Dillon Gee going to the hospital with a shoulder problem, I knew that it wasn’t a structural injury because we saw no sign of anything of that nature in his start on Sunday plus he would not have gone to the ER for that.  What popped into my head first was David Cone and his suffering of an aneurysm in his arm back in 1996. It seems Gee’s blood clot is not as severe as what Cone suffered but because they had to perform a cauterization to break up the clot and not just give him blood thinners gives me the idea that this is still very serious and could be a season ending event for Gee.

Forget the baseball part of this for a moment, how scary it must have been for Gee and his wife that not only did he have to head to the ER to get checked out but to have it happen at the All Star break with most of the Mets brassi n KC and teammates off on their own.  Hopefully Gee will be ok and between the procedure and medication this will be a onetime freak occurrence.

So what do the Mets do if Gee is out for longer than 1 or 2 starts? The first out cry from the fan base was to scream for Sandy Alderson to bring up Matt Harvey and while Harvey has shown some improvement with his command of pitches and has improved his strikeout rate, his walks per 9 innings is still close to 4 and the Mets would love to see him get more experience in Buffalo.

If Gee misses a start or three the team can survive with Jeremy Heftner and a few strategic off days but if this is a situation where Gee needs further surgery, the Mets may not have a choice but to bring up Matt Harvey to take Gee’s spot.

I don’t worry about Harvey handling the pressure of joining the big league club as it fights for a post season spot. From what we saw and heard of Harvey in spring training, he seems to be a real confident guy and a young guy who asks a lot of questions and absorbs information like a sponge.

When you look at Harvey and compare him to Dillon Gee, I think Harvey can pitch as well as Gee, if not better right now, so if this is going to be a sustained absence by Gee, the Mets best and maybe only option is Matt Harvey.

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GAME ON !

One month from today is opening day!

Busy day so far as I had to get to work by 6 AM so I can leave early as I have a meeting with my Babe Ruth team and catch Mets-Nats as well.  I called for the meeting to held at local joint that has a back room with a TV so we can discuss business, eat pizza and watch the game.

Unlike the Mets, no one from the NY Times followed me around to cover my early morning ferry and subway ride to work.

The pitching line up for tonight will start with Dillon Gee but the guy all eyes will be on is Matt Harvey, who is scheduled to come in after Gee gets his work in. Harvey will be followed by Miguel Batista who may still be basking in his wonderful 3-0 win over the Reds on the last day of the 2011 season, then Daniel Herrera, Tim Byrdak and Frank Francisco to close things out.

Tomorrow we get out first look at Johan Santana. It nice to have game and performances that we can comment on finally.

While all are busy in St. Lonesome getting ready for tonight’s first spring game, The Skill Sets will be focused on the Judge Jed Rakoff’s Manhattan court room to find out if the clawback suit against them is still a go.

John Harper has concluded the reason the Mets have a lack of depth on the Major League roster is due to finances. Tomorrow Harper will report on how jumping into the Atlantic Ocean will cause you to get wet.

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IT MAY LOOK LIKE EBBETS FIELD BUT IT SOUNDS LIKE THE POLO GROUNDS

I didn’t watch last night’s game as it was turn to work Bingo at my daughter’s school (you get a credit on your tuition payment every Bingo you work but last night was a bit of a rough crowd. When I first started working these Bingo nights, it just a bunch of blue haired ladies now the crowd is getting younger and rowdier especially when they miss the Jackpot by one number. I don’t have to work it again until July, I may bring a night stick for that one) so I missed The Freak mowing down the Mets but from the tone of stories I’ve read this morning, it was just another night at Citi Field.  A descent starting pitching performance, inability to get a big hit in a big spot and oh yeah, a pitcher coming up with a sore arm.

Chris Capuano tossed ok, a quality start in this modern era I guess.  Ryota Igarashi was very good in an inning and two-thirds of work and Dillon Gee was wasted again for one inning of relief.

Big Plef is the matinee idol on the mound today for the 1:10PM start at Citi Field against LHP Jonathan Sanchez. With Sanchez going for the Giants, Ronnie Paulino gets to receive for Pelfrey and this could be quite the big start of Pelf. He loves throwing to a vet catcher who TELLS him what to throw which cuts down the amount of thinking Pelfrey has to do on the mound and the less he has to think the better Plefrey pitches. A strong start today will save Pelf’s ass from heading to Buffalo and will also give Paulino the job as Big Plef’s personal chauffer.

From what I did see and have heard, there has been a large contingent of SF Giants fans in attendance at Citi Field the last two nights. Back in the mid to late 60’s, a trip by the Giants and Dodgers were a HUGE attraction at Shea and MLB always seemed to schedule them for weekend series to boost the gate (Shea Stadium on a warm July or August Friday night with the Giants or Dodgers in town, was a happening. There would be a ragtime band that would stroll through the Field Level playing between innings, Mrs Payson in her box next to the Mets dugout, Homer the Beagle holding his Let’s Go Mets sign on a stick held in his mouth and of course, Karl Ehrhardt and his many signs. Good times.) I guess a World Series victory makes for new fans.

Well it looks like all the work Pedro Beato has had lately has taken a bit of a toll as he is has a 15 day stop order on his right elbow. Beato threw over 40 pitches in the 14 inning game which is a lot for a guy who was the set up to the set up man, pitching just one inning. From the looks of things it’s just soreness in the elbow and not that serious…………………….I hope

Jason Bay should be back in the lineup today after taking Paternity leave to celebrate his baby boy.

Angel Pagan played 9 innings last night for St. Lonesome hitting a triple and scoring a run in four AB’s. Pagan is eligible to come off the DL on Saturday hopefully replacing Willie Harris on the roster.

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WINNING!!!!!!!!

Com’on you didn’t think the Mets would lose every game this season did you?  And what a game it was, give credit to Terry Collins for going radical by using Chris Capuano and R.A. Dickey on their throw days in relief. Why waste those pitches in the pen.  Collins checked the data available to him that revealed Larry Jones going 1-7 against Capuano which I guess was foreign to Freddi Gonzalez who batter Larry for Freddie Freeman (whenever I hear the name Freddie Freeman I think of Freddy Cannon and the song Palisades Park) then having R.A. Dickey come in for quick inning in the 7th followed by Izzy and K-Rod.  I’m sure Tony LaRussa is distraught over not coming up with this strategy when he invented baseball.

Dillon Gee showed up at the Ted like a homeless man with no glove, no spikes but was ready for service. Gee’s bags were lost between Providence R.I. and Philadelphia and to make things worse Gee did not arrive in the ATL until 1AM. So with Bobby Parnell’s glove and Josh Thole’s spikes and a spare suit of Mike Nickeas (who will need that suit for the next profession he has because he ain’t cut out for big league baseball)  in his locker, but forth one of the better starts by a Mets starter this season. Gee will get at least one more start as a fill in for Chris Young and Collins has said that Gee will most likely go back to Buffalo so he can continue to pitch on a regular basis but if he has another strong outing like yesterday, with the shape this pitching staff is in, how do you send him back to Triple A ?

Matt Harvey had another strong outing for St Lonesome yesterday going 5 innings in the Baby Mets 4-1 win over Ft. Myers. In 16 innings pitched so far this season Harvey has not given up an earned run while striking out 20 and walking just 6. It will quite interesting to see how the front office handles the 24 year old first round pick in the 2009 entry draft.  A couple of more of these solid starts and Harvey could see himself fast tracked to Binghamton by late May.

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METS FANS NEED TO LOOK OUTSIDE THE CITI FIELD BOX

With all the gloom and doom about the big club, there is some good news coming out of the Mets on the farm. Last night Dillon Gee, made his case to get the spot start necessitated by last nights rain out with a 7 inning gem on the North Pole in Buffalo.

Last years 1st round pick Matt Harvey had another outstanding outing for the St. Lonesome Mets as well. The former Tar Heel struck out 8 in 6 inings of work and looks to be a few more A ball starts away from joining Wally Backman’s Bingo Mets

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POSITIVELY METS

From spending time at the Mets  Citi Kids event at Citi Field, a few things stood out:

When you bring up Manager Terry Collins name, especially to the younger Mets players, you get a big smile. Dillon Gee, Josh Thole and Bobby Parnell are all familiar with Collins from his days as the Mets Minor League Coordinator. When asked about the new manager the description they all use is “high energy”. They also laud Collins preparation and the detail he puts in to his workouts.

One of the questions to R.A. Dickey was about him coming into spring training knowing he has a job and how does that affect his routine in camp. Dickey said that working on getting right handed hitters out more consistently, especially switch hitters who bat from the right side against him as “it’s a more comfortable at bat for them”, he can now work on finding ways to take away that comfort level.  One of Dickey’s concerns he said was “that last year was not an anomaly, and it’s my hope it’s the natural evolution of the journey that I’ve started with the knuckle ball”  

Dickey was asked about meeting and talking to Terry Collins and he said he enjoyed the conversations they’ve had but there will be a feeling out process between the manager and the players, “a learining curve “ was how he put it.  R.A. said  “He  respect his (Collin’s)  baseball knowledge”  and he loves Collins’ intensity something Dickey said “that has not been seen around here in the last few years”.  I asked Dickey about the team being a contender and he told me “Gosh I hope so, but there are some boys down the road who may not agree with me but we have the pieces in place, how competitive will play out over the season.  Dickey went on to say that “clubhouse culture” is a big factor “getting people to realize their maximum potential is a big part of it (contending) “   Dickey also feels a “new sense of energy” from last season to now with the new regime taking over he used the term “a high tide raises all ships” stating that the high energy of the manager and the more positive outlook from the front office is a breath of fresh air from the defeatist attitude the Mets organization had had over the past few years.  Dickey told me it’s about getting a “network of guys” to buy in to the positive attitude that it will spread through the team.

Dickey pulls no punches when asked about the second half malaise of last year, “We were ill prepared, in the sense that we weren’t ready there was no sense of urgency” Dickey included himself in that category as well.  He also spoke vaguely of the “hypothesis” of Beltran coming back from injury and the shifting of roles that wasn’t done too smoothly. Dickey claims with all the guys (save for Johan Santana) coming into camp healthy and “rip-roarin’” it will make a world of difference.

Dickey then talked of Josh Thole and how “blessed” he is to have him catch him. He called Thole “Selfless and that’s not something you can say about a player in most clubhouses” He also went to rave about the time and hard work that Thole puts into his craft. It was a theme amongst the pitchers when asked about Thole, they all started with praise of his work ethic and his communication skills. I asked Thole what it’s like to work with the veteran pitchers like Santana, Frankie Rodriguez and Pedro Feliciano when he was here. He said those guys were great to him and he implored them to let him know anything he was doing wrong and from talking to Dickey and Mike Pelfrey that straightforwardness of Thole has gone a long way in his gaining the respect of the pitching staff.

Of course no conversation with R.A. Dickey is complete with some literary recommendation. He told us he just about done reading My Name Is Asher Lev, and he highly recommends it.

Jose Reyes was more than accommodating with his time for us but one thing he didn’t to talk about was injuries. As far as Jose is concerned injuries are a negative and in keeping with the positive energy of the Mets, Reyes pronounced himself fit and healthy and ready to get to St. Lonesome to workout.   When I asked him about the managers proclamation that he is the leadoff hitter with no stupid games as to maybe he’ll bat third Reyes was Reyes, he had a wide smile and said he spoke to Collins who told him “he wants him more involved in the offense” and you can tell that was just what Jose wanted to here.  Reyes said he likes the energy and passion Collins begins as manager. There wasn’t much on the prospects of a new contract from but Reyes reiterated how he wants to stay a Met especially when it was brought up to him that he is longest tenured Met.

During the event we found out that Terry Collins had told Mike Pelfrey that he will be given the opening day assignment and when we got to talk to Big Pelf, you could see how happy he was getting that news.  Pelf told us during his lunch with Collins that he could tell the manager was ready to get to camp as he was going over cutoffs and how to back up bases on throws from the outfield.  Pelf was asked about last year’s trading deadline and the inability of the team to make a deal; he said it was frustrating that the club didn’t try to bring in a player or two to spark the club. Pelf also said he was very happy (as did Bobby Parnell) that Dan Warthen was retained as pitching coach. Both Pelf and Parnell spoke of Warthen’s strong communication skills and how he works with the pitchers.  The biggest thing Pelfrey is looking for from himself in2011 is consistency, the ability to go out and give the team seven-eight quality innings every start.  Pelfrey agrees with most that the Chris Capuano signing was great “under the radar” as he said, same with Chris Young and as we all feel with the pitching reclamation projects brought in by the front office, everything is prefaced with “if healthy”

Pelfrey talked about his use of his secondary pitches and his slump of August. He said learned a lot form that slump but knows that everything he does works off his fastball. It seems that when Pelf has his fastball working it raises his confidence to use his two-seam knowing that he get out trouble with the fastball.

Confidence, Energy, Positivity that just about sums of the Mets off season.

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METS FANS BE PREPARED

I’m just back from Citi Field where the Mets held Citi Kids Day for some 5th and 6th grade public school children of NYC. The attraction besides getting to sit in the Mets Clubhouse, we meeting Mets players Dillon Gee, Josh Thole, Bobby Parnell, R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes and 2011 Opening Day starter Mike Pelfrey along with manager Terry Collins.

I haven’t had time to transcribe what I have from the interviews with the players (I hope to have some of it up tomorrow as I came home and now I’m off to MSG for Rangers-Maple Leafs) but the main theme I picked up from the players is, they feel this team is no also ran and 2011 is not just a bridge to the future. The word you heard the most today was “preparation” as in lack of it last year and lot’s of emphasis on it this year.

Mike Pelfrey, beaming from the announcement that he will be on the mound April 1 in Florida, told us of Terry Collins sitting with the players at lunch today going over relay throws and defensive alignments. The whole time Big Pelf had a big grin conveying his liking of this new direction.

More tomorrow ……………………..

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THE RIGHT TO BARE TIRED ARMS

So after game after game of bullpen mismanagement, Jerry Manuel is looking for more relief help because let’s face it, Manuel goes through relievers like Larry King  goes through wives (and sister in laws) as six arms in the pen is not enough for the Great Pitching Arsonist.

I have no problem adding another reliever, in fact as impressive as Josh Thole has been in his cameo appearance, a third catcher is too high end an item for the Mets to carry around and a swap of Thole for a pitcher, Pat Misch or Dillon Gee should the call over Manny Acosta, it  is the move to make.

As Manuel and the Mets fans cry out for Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt, or a solid reliever, if you believe the story in yesterday’s NY Post, it’s not going to happen. The story in the Murdoch rag states that the Skill Sets aren’t very flush with dough. In fact after reading this story, it may be safe to say, if you’re a fan of home grown talent, you may in luck as home grown means cheap labor and that’s what the Skill sets may be all about for the

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Tickets

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