STOP………………..Harvey Time

Tuesday night I Tweeted from Citi Field, the fact that I stood next to Matt Harvey in the Mets dugout during batting practice and just his presences oozed Major Leaguer to me.  He wasn’t one of these rail thin peach fuzz cheeked rookies, nope, he had that thick trunk that the best power pitchers possess and he just carried himself around the dugout, that was boarding on a three ring circus with Mets bloggers, main streamers and models posing by bat racks in tank tops. None of this fazed Harvey. I had my voice recorder in hand and wanted to get at least a five minute interview with Harvey but he was headed to the bullpen to get his work in so all I could muster was a quick “how ya doing” and “good luck”

It was a pleasure watching Harvey pitch last night (you could tell Keith Hernandez in Phoenix doing the game and Ron Darling in the SNY studios in Midtown were enjoying Harvey’s performance as well especially Darling) as I said he, has that thick trunk and uses it to push off the rubber to where he’s not using all arm to pitch. A guy named Seaver used to that way back when and he was pretty good too.  Harvey hit a high of 98 MPH with his fastball and averaged 95 for the night. One thing missing from Harvey’s repertoire was use of his curve ball which according to Brooks Baseball he threw just three times. It was a mix of fastball/slider for Harvey all night and he was at his most effective when he hit corners, especially the outside corner of the plate and work his fastball up the ladder. Bobby Parnell should sit with Harvey and watch tape of this performance because if Parnell could approach pitching like Harvey did last night, the Mets would never have another 10 game losing streak.

It’s hard to harness one’s enthusiasm for Matt Harvey and what’s to come the rest of this season and beyond after last night.  With the awful start to the second half and the infighting amongst some players and the fans looking for a miracle in Sandy Alderson’s second year of stewardship with the Mets, Matt Harvey gave the team and fans the pick me up both needed, lets’ hope it lasts.

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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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Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times: 50 Years From The Mets Junk Draw

Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times, has put together a 50 Years From The Mets Junk Draw column that looks at 50 of the best and most interesting moments in Mets history that are not the obvious choices, such as:

 May 2, 1963: Skipper Casey Stengel decides to do something different. He inserts catcher Choo Choo Coleman in the batting order’s leadoff slot. To this day, it’s still the only time any catcher has led off for the Mets. New York wins, 10-3

 WOW  who’da thunk that?  I would have bet either John Stearns or Mackey Sasser would have hit at the top of the order during their Mets career.   I bet Josh Thole hits in the leadoff spot at least once as a Met

Aug. 9, 1963: Jim Hickman hits a walk-off grand slam for the Mets, an achievement that’s extra special because it ends the 18-game losing streak of Roger Craig, the team’s best pitcher in their early horrible years.

Jim Hickman had terrific power and hit some home runs as a Met but the lure of obtaining Brooklyn born and bred (and Boys High baseball and basketball standout) Tommy Davis from the Dodgers was too strong so Hickman was shipped to LA for Davis. Davis by the way played one season for the Mets in 1967 and was dealt in the off season to the White Sox for Tommie Agee and Al Weiss.

Sept. 16, 1975: Since 1950, quite a few baseball games have ended on a walk-off walk, but none have happened as late as this one. The Mets top the Expos 4-3 when Montreal’s Don DeMola walks Del Unser with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 18th inning.

 

It has always seemed to me that the Mets have played more long extra innings games than any other team in baseball history

 

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I Know It’s Early But…………

 

I had hoped to post this earlier this morning but I was having some computer issues, so now that that’s fixed I figured let me throw this up tonight since there’s no Mets to watch  

 

When I saw the lineup that Terry Collins cobbled together last night it left me speechless.  Vinny Rottino batting 5th? Ginger Tuner 6th Rob Johnson in a big league game?  I then proclaimed this as a no can do game for the Mets to win in fact if they did I felt it would be an instant Mets Classic.

Well, cut off my legs and call me Eddie Gadell, the Mets not only won the game and swept the three games series but if watched the game with someone who never watched baseball before which team do you think they would say was the favorite to win the NL East?  The Mets looked like the team to beat and the Phucks ? Like a bunch of broken down old men.  As enjoyable as it was to see the Mets make another late inning push to the finish line, how much did you enjoy the Phuck Phace Phans storming out of CBP after the Mets top of the 8th   like there was a free government cheese giveaway on Broad Street.

Of course it’s too early to gloat but for all the doom and gloom that surrounded the Mets all winter and into spring training (anyone still upset by the club’s shitty Grapefruit League record ?) having this team (18-13) just 2 games off the pace of the best record in the NL (Dodgers  and Cardinals are at 20-11) and 2.5 games away from the best record in all of MLB (Rangers at 20-10) is something to be proud of. But Terry Collins won’t ever show that side of him, sure he’s happy with the wins and how the team has played but he also knows there is such a small margin for error with this club and the fan base is one 3 game losing streak from turning on them so he keeps his emotions to himself and his players have taken his queue as well, hopefully sometime in October all the emotion can be released.

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Oh Yeah #IMWITH28

There is nothing better than watching your favorite team come from behind to win a game, then to top it off, one of your favorite players not only makes a game saving defensive play but then comes up to the plate with the winning run in scoring position and comes through with the game winning hit.

There is something different about Daniel Murphy so far this season. I saw some of it this off season when I got the chance to interview him at the Thurman Munson dinner with other writers and media people but when the main streamers moved on, it was just me and Murph. I shut off my recorder so I could have an “off the record” conversation with Murphy as we talked about some stuff other than baseball, mostly how the weather in NYC this winter was almost as nice as his native Jacksonville, where he worked out all winter and his getting a kick out me trying to sell him on living in Brooklyn as I brought up his short stay as a Cyclone.  We also spoke of the negativity that from outside forces that was surrounding the team and Murphy gave me a smirk and told me that stuff doesn’t bother him or his teammates as the players, coaches and especially the manager won’t let negativity enter the clubhouse.  So far Murph was right this team as the club seems to have stayed below the noise with this hot start.

I agree 100 % with what Bobby Ojeda said in the post-game show though, everyone is sky high happy as they’re winning ball games, what you want to look at is if this attitude remains during the first 4 or 5 game losing streak as Bobby O pointed out, in the past this team would wilt and get real quiet during the tough times. That will be the real test for the 2012 Mets, their reaction to adversity.

I’ve said it before that sometimes I enjoy seeing a pitcher who is struggling try to find himself during a game and righting himself than watching a guy dominate a line up and last night Mike Pelfrey gave one of those find yourself performances.  His first inning had me squirming in my chair after three straight hits by Danny Espinosa, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche as it looked like it was going to be an early Big Pelf meltdown but only one Nat crossed home plate so disaster averted. Pelf threw a lot of pitches and it seemed he was getting squeezed by home plate ump Todd Tichenor especially in the 6th when it looked like he stuck out Xavier Nady to end the inning but Tichenor blew the call and gave Nady life and on the next pitch Nady singled to center, prolonging the inning and ending Pelfs night and his attempt to go 6 full innings.

Pelf threw strikes and walked only one but he was tagged for ten base hits. He relied a lot on his sinker and slider most of the night but cranked up his four seamer to 90+ MPH when he needed it. It wasn’t a great start or an awful start but it was better than normal Big Pelf start.

I want to see the Mets get into a bench clearer this season just to see who is dumb enough to take on Jon Rauch, that’s one guy I’d hate have mad at me.

Ed Marcus a/k/a Rusty Jr over at Real Dirty Mets has a great review of R.A. Dickey’s book. If you haven’t bought Dickey’s yet shame on you.

By the way I will have a special announcement of a contest I will be running here on Friday that you won’t want to miss.   

 

 

 

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THE DUDE LOOKS CONFIDENT

We’ve reached the point in the season where it’s not so much about the wins and losses, although a .500 finish would be psychologically  satisfying I guess, it’s more about what do we have here, what’s worth keeping and what has to be discarded, kind of like cleaning out your basement after taking on water (I must report, no Mets artifacts were adversely effected in my basement taking on some water, although an American Girl doll took a bit of a hit so I guess a trip to the 5th Avenue flagship store is in my immediate future) that’s why I don’t understand what is taking Terry Collins so long to place Lucas Duda in RF and let Nick Evans (Evans reminds of an old nag that runs at Aqueduct during the winter in calming races and never has anyone put in a claim and week after week keeps running over the inner dirt track in freezing weather just hoping to find a home in Kentucky to graze in the grass for the rest of his eternal life) and Whitestone Mikey platoon at first base.

It seems the biggest obstacle with Duda was his acceptance of being a big leaguer, gain the confidence to believe in himself, that he is a Major Leaguer.  As he has become an everyday player the past month or so, Duda has realized that he is of big league timber and that confidence is showing at the plate and in the field.  One of the reasons Collins wanted to leave Duda at 1st base where he is most comfortable and get his bat going. Well, the bat and the head are going very good, so now would seem to be a good time to take the next leap and insert Duda as the everyday RF’er.

Other positive Mets news from last night besides the end of the 5 game losing streak and Izzy getting his 300 save was the signing of some of the remaining picks from the June draft . The three picks who signed that stand out are of course Brandon Nimmo, signed over slot which is a reason to celebrate in itself, infielder Phil Evans and RHP out of Baylor, Logan Verrett as the Mets front office worked right up to the deadline to get these players signed.  Good job by Paul DePodesta and his staff in putting together what most folks proficient in evaluating amateur talent claim, a very good Mets draft.

So you thought the Mets forgot about their 50th Anniversary, HA! No way, in fact the word is out that next year’s home uni will have a 1962 flavor to it and the blue top with orange piping and numbers will be back next season on a limited basis and as a regular alternative uniform top in 2013. I hope next year they  go with no name on the back of the home uniform top and no number on the front along with having the players wear white sanitary socks and blue stir ups. Please don’t half way this, even the cap should be of the darker blue of the era, and WEAR THESE UNIFORMS FOR EVERY HOME GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Put the snow whites in moth balls until 2013 and place the black hats with the blue brims in a bonfire!

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WHAT ABOUT BOB ?

Bob Melvin is sure sounding like a guy who will be gainfully employed as Mets manager :

Bob Melvin, in his own understated way, wants to open the door to the Mets’ clubhouse and give players a swift kick in the pants.

“It’s not a talent problem,” Melvin said yesterday after his second interview with Mets officials for the team’s managerial opening. “It’s the mindset. Get back to the confident mindset this team needs to win and compete in that division.”

“I don’t look at it as a rebuilding process,” he said. “I look at it as we have the pieces with this club to compete, I don’t think there is any doubt about that. Certainly with the payroll this team has, it gives you the resources to compete every year. It’s just getting everybody going in the right direction and getting everybody healthy.”

I have to agree 100% with Melvin on this. I thought Jerry Manuel’ biggest downfall was his lack of leadership and his inability to motivate his players.  I’m not talking Knute Rockne “RAH-RAH-RAH WIN ONE FOR THE GIPPER” motivation but the ability to put the right people in the right situation to have them succeed.  The Mets were always a three game losing streak from turning tail and retreating, and that’s on the manger.  You never got the impression there was any sense of urgency with Manuel, who loved to say “there’s a lot of baseball left” when the team was floundering. “There’s a lot of baseball left”, is baseball speak for “I’ve got no clue on how to right this team” and that’s the mindset that Sandy Alderson was brought in to change.

Getting everybody going in the right direction and getting everybody healthy.” The two words that stand out to me in that quote are direction and healthy. The biggest problem the last front office regime had was a lack of organizational direction. Omar talked “pitching, defense and athleticism” but never went out and traded, signed or drafted with that mindset. There was no organizational structure in the minor league system and First Year Entry Draft would have been better served by using copies of Baseball America to draft players, but that way of doing business is over.

I feel there is a large segment of Mets fans that would bitch and moan even if John McGraw, Branch Rickey and Ed Barrow were all reincarnated and brought into the Mets organization. You want to get me excited over a manager? Then name Christina Hendricks the Mets field boss (WHOA!!!!!!!! Is it hot in here or is it Christina???????????)

The foundation of the Mets organization has a huge crack in it and the basement has very bad water damage until the farm system and mindset of how the Mets do business gets fixed and back on solid ground, it doesn’t matter who sits in the manager’s office.   If it sounds like I’m drinking the Sandy Alderson Kool –Aid, you’re damn right I am, the man has a proven track record of building a strong foundation he’s Tom Silva and Norm Abram all in one package. So Mets fans give the man a little room to operate and if Wally Backman is not named manager then buy this DVD and get over it.

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