Mets Merized Online » Dan Warthen Thu, 11 Feb 2016 23:33:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Harvey Dominates Cubs For Second Career Playoff Win Sun, 18 Oct 2015 13:00:31 +0000 matt harvey

In the second playoff start of his career, Matt Harvey was outstanding. He struck out nine batters in 7.2 innings while allowing just two runs and four hits.

With the win yesterday, he became the third pitcher in franchise history to win the first two games of his Mets’ playoff career. Tom Glavine did so in 2006, and Jacob deGrom became the second earlier this postseason.

Even though he won in his last outing, Harvey was still disappointed with how he performed against the Dodgers. He expected better of himself, and couldn’t wait to get on the mound again in Game 1 of the NLCS.

“No, I think after the first go around I definitely wasn’t happy. Obviously we won, and that was the most important thing. But I think I kind of said in the press conference yesterday that I really wanted to be back out there as much as I possibly could, and getting the ball the first game, I really wanted to start things off the right way and get us rolling. Fortunately enough I had things working pretty well, and we were able to do that.”

Harvey certainly set the tone early as he retired the first 12 batters he faced. He looked as dominating as ever, and kept the dangerous Cubs lineup off balance all night.

After all the controversy surrounding him this season, this was exactly the kind of outing he needed to redeem himself to the fans, who chanted his name as he left the field. He pitched deep into the game, and proved he could be relied on as an elite postseason starter.

“Oh, it was great. I think after everything that’s happened, I think the biggest thing was really staying focused on what I had to do tonight. Regardless of what’s happened, my job was to go out and give us quality innings and keep the damage down and really, like I said, get us starting off right.”

Harvey will be ready to go for his next start against the Cubs, and will look to overpower them once again. The Mets got a scare after he got hit in the arm by a line drive, but he did not suffer an injury and turned out to be okay.

“It’s a little bit swollen right now, but the training staff will take care of that and we’ll be all set.”


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Dan Warthen Deserves Heaps Of Credit For Mets’ Pitching Renaissance Tue, 03 Mar 2015 00:39:35 +0000 New York Mets Spring Training at their Minor League practice facility located within Tradition Field in Florida

Pitching coach Dan Warthen told Marc Carig of Newsday that he is “very skeptical” Harvey will be allowed to reach the 200 inning threshold that Sandy Alderson talked about last week. Warthen indicated that a more appropriate limit would be between 180 and 190 innings pitched.

“I would be very skeptical of 200 innings,” Warthen told the newspaper. “I don’t think we’re going to reach that number, but it would be very close. That’s at the high, high end.”

Warthen also said he believed Harvey could have pitched during the end of last season, but in retrospect he’s glad the Mets held off.

* * * * * * * *

Dan Warthen also told reporters that a decision on who will be the Mets Opening Day starter will have to be made by March 18.

The only starter who is not being considered is Matt Harvey who understands and is perfectly fine with the decision. Harvey will start one of the following four games.

“Matt will say the same thing: ‘I’m a good teammate. I plan on being the No. 1 guy for many years to come but right now I’m probably not the one that is deserving,’” Warthen said.

* * * * * * * *

On Monday, right-hander Zack Wheeler acknowledged to Mike Vorkunov of that he dislikes defensive shifts and would prefer the Mets not employ them when he’s on the mound.

“I don’t want to piss anybody off but, honestly, I don’t like it,” he said. “Teams are starting to be more analytical these days. … I don’t like analytics all that much, but I’m not the boss here. I really can’t control it. They know where I stand on that.”

At a conference this weekend, Alderson asserted that the Mets stopped using a shift behind one of its pitchers. Wheeler saw the information relayed in a tweet that day and, when asked, told a reporter he guessed it might have been him and, indeed, it was.

Terry Collins said the Mets have reached an accord with Wheeler, who appreciated that they listened. While the numbers may be on their side, sometimes there are other considerations to be had.

“We said you’re right,” Collins said. “You’re too important not to have confidence on the mound. So we’ll make the adjustments.”

* * * * * * * *

Matt Harvey is excited at how good his curve has been post surgery. Harvey said, the curveball came easier to him, so he began throwing it more. He added that pitching coach Dan Warthen encouraged it because the curve places far less torque on his elbow than the slider.

“It’s a great combination to be able to throw a four-seam fastball up in the zone and come back with a curveball,” Warthen said. “The delivery, everything is repeating itself beautifully right now.”

“I always threw sliders,” said Harvey, who threw approximately four of them for every three curves in 2013. “It’s nice having that develop.”

Look for him to reverse the trend and throw 4:3 curve to slider this season which could be huge. Harvey’s curve was his top out pitch over his MLB career with a nearly 40 percent strikeout rate.

* * * * * * * *

Finally, and I know many of you will disagree with me, but Dan Warthen deserves a ton of credit for how all of our young pitchers have developed. He works tirelessly with all of them to bring out their best and many of them are exceeding expectations.

For too long he’s been at the butt end of jokes, but in fact he should be held in high esteem for what’s become a pitching renaissance in Flushing and the juggernaut that is fueling all this talk of playoffs.

A big MMO hat tip to Dan Warthen for a job well done.


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Lamar Johnson Will Not Return As Hitting Coach Thu, 02 Oct 2014 20:30:14 +0000 lamar johnson

Official Release

The New York Mets today announced that hitting coach Lamar Johnson and assistant hitting coach Luis Natera will not return to their positions in 2015. Johnson and Natera have been offered positions within the minor league system.

“We appreciate the hard work of Lamar and Luis this year at the Major League level,” said Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson. “We hope they will continue to be part of the Mets organization in the future.”

Natera was named to the newly created position of assistant hitting coach on March 24. Johnson took over for Dave Hudgens, who was fired on May 26.

The Mets also announced that Mike Barwis, a strength and conditioning consultant to the Mets since 2011, has been appointed to oversee all Major League and Minor League strength and conditioning for the Mets organization.

Barwis, known for his “Barwis Methods” performance training programs for professional and amateur athletes, will remain a consultant, but will now be directly involved in the hiring and supervision of all Mets strength and conditioning coaches and will be responsible for implementing a system-wide performance training program.

4:00 PM

According to CBS’s Jon Heyman, the Mets have officially announced that Lamar Johnson will be replaced as hitting coach. Johnson and his assistant Luis Natera will not retain their roles within the organization. It is still unclear if they will be reassigned or released.

Johnson replaced Dave Hudgens after he was fired on May 27. There was no difference in batting or on-base after the switch.

While the Mets overall hitting rankings were not the worst in the National League, they struggled to hit with runners on base all year. They ranked seventh worst in baseball with 3.61 runners left in scoring position per game.

Bob Geren, Tim Teufel, Tom Goodwin and Dan Warthen will all return for the 2015 season.

MMO footer

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3 Up, 3 Down: The Kids Are Alright Thu, 04 Sep 2014 17:32:05 +0000 MLB: Chicago Cubs at New York Mets

The Mets finished up their three game set against the Marlins with a 2-1 series victory last night. New York has an interesting parallel with their division rivals from Miami, in that both organizations have dwelled at the bottom of the NL East cellar for many years now, but through those years they also stockpiled young, athletic players with the potential to be stars. Let’s see how the Met’s youngsters stacked up in this edition of 3 Up and 3 Down.

3 Up

1.  Matt den Dekker, Juan Lagares and Kirk Nieuwenhuis are a stellar defensive unit in the outfield, they’re fast and fearless, but that speed and tenacity has transitioned recently at the plate. Of the three, I’ve been most impressed with den Dekker as of late. The indictment against Matt has always been that his offense may never develop enough to give his glove an everyday spot in the lineup. I’m only evaluating a small sample size, but MDD is showing improvement in areas that project future success. Mainly, he’s reverted to a shorter, more compact swing, allowing him to turn on pitches quickly. He’s also showing vast improvements in his plate discipline. In his first 12 games in August, he was seeing an average of 12.4 pitches per game. In his last seven, that number has gone up to 16.4 pitches per game, with a 22% increase in strikes. His walk rate has remained relatively flat, but now Matt is seeing better pitches and taking better swings. The results are fantastic as den Dekker left Miami with a triple slash line of .545/.615/1.252, plating a run, swiping a base and scoring twice. His defense holds up pretty well to his counterpart in center field as well.

2.  Juan Lagares is no stranger to Mets fans at this point. He continues to improve in every facet of his game, becoming more of a student, while retaining his ‘hair on fire’ style of play.  Lagares took tremendous strides in this series and gave us a glimpse of a superstar in the making.  First base coach Tom Goodwin has challenged Juan to transition his speed in the outfield to the basepaths and unsurprisingly, it’s been a success. Juan had three stolen bases in three attempts against the Marlins this series. In his last six games, he is 5-for-5, as Goodwin at times has forced him to steal. Lagares noted that he had previously been hesitant given the duress on his hamstring, but at 100%, he seems unstoppable. Prior to his recent streak, he was 4-for-7 all year. It also seems that the coaching staff is making a unique case for Lagares’ approach at the plate by ditching the one-size-fits-all philosophy and building on Juan’s strengths. Pitchers began to recognize his ability to hit balls on the outside of the plate, so they started going inside to him. Lamar Johnson worked with Lagares to pull the ball on the inside and it translated into home run power. Opposing pitchers are once again pitching him low and outside the strike zone and Juan has adjusted nicely by continuing to drive those balls to the opposite field. Tuesday, Lagares put his talents on exhibition, going 4-for-4 with a walk and two stolen bases. Overall, the center fielder batted .500 with an OPS of 1.105 in South Beach.

3.  Little “d” on the mound and behind the plate, means a W in the books. The battery duo of Jacob deGrom and Travis d’Arnaud has produced a team record of 5-3 in the games they start together, allowing a meager 1.07 walks/hits per innings pitched. Last night kept pace with that production, as deGrom went 6.0 innings, allowing only one earned run while striking out six.  He has lowered his ERA on the season to 2.87 and kept his name hot in the hunt for Rookie Of The Year.  Meanwhile d’Arnaud (the little ‘d’ is killing my auto-correct) continues to emerge as one of the top offensive catchers in the league. He already leads all rookies in home runs with 12, but had a great series, giving his pitchers a boost on offense. Travis produced a triple slash line of .500/.571/1.155 this series and is now a point away from having a .300 OBP and .700 OPS on the year, which is fairly remarkable given his woes prior to returning from AAA Las Vegas. Consistency is the name of the game for the youngsters, it’s the only true measurement of projecting sustained success in the future, and these players named so far have done a great job making the future very bright.

3 Down

1.  Pitching was atrocious for the most part in this series, which for the Mets, has been their strength all year.  Zack Wheeler was fortunate enough to have minimal damage done to his ERA, as it now sits at 3.45.  He only gave up two earned runs in Monday’s loss, but as a whole, he allowed five runs total while he was on the mound. Wheeler again turned in a brief outing, going only 4.2 innings with five hits and two walks, using 114 pitches to get through it all.  Zack clearly has the material to be an ace, but he has yet to figure out a way to keep his pitch counts down and go deeper into games.  Pitching coach Dan Warthen has got to prioritize this and reverse the trend or Wheeler may never reach his full potential. Jon Niese remarkably was able to walk away with a win on Tuesday, thanks entirely to an eight-run offensive outburst by his teammates (Jon did go 1-1 with a run scored to be fair), but he still surrendered 10 hits and six earned runs.

2.  Errors absolutely killed this team.  Jeurys Familia is a relief pitcher, so I’m slightly less aggravated by his two errors in the series, although they were total blunders. Dilson Herrera committed two errors in his three starts and David Wright also had a pair in the series, giving him 15 on the year. Wright is a seasoned vet and a former gold glover, although watching his errors gave me hope and disappointment simultaneously. Hope, because they had nothing to do with injury or lack of range. Disappointment because he was back on his heels when he committed a fielding error and he wasn’t squaring his body up when he made a poor throw. When David struggles from injury, I’m probably his biggest apologist and have been all year. This series was not a good display of The Captain leading by example though.

3.  In game decision making by the manager, in my opinion, cost the Mets their only loss in this series and could have cost the team another loss last night as well.  In the top of the 7th of a tie ball game on Monday night, Terry Collins made an offensive switch to bat Eric Campbell against lefty reliever Mike Dunn, taking Matt den Dekker out of the game.  Conventional wisdom agrees with Collins’ move here, but there were different elements that immediately made me feel like this was a poor choice.  The Marlins were producing runs all night, using all parts of the outfield to knock out base hits. Den Dekker is clearly the better defensive choice, and had also been producing at the plate that night too. In a game where the Mets pitchers were getting lit up, it made sense to leave den Dekker in. The result was Campbell flying out to center and in the following frame he dropped a ball he dove to catch in left field, It was the beginning of an error-filled meltdown. Hindsight is 20/20, but den Dekker was playing great that night and he undoubtedly would have made that catch. This isn’t a knock on Soup, but he’s not an outfielder. I also understand situational hitting, but at the same time, this is supposed to be a developmental period for our up and coming youngsters.  All position players who are looking to lock down a job in 2015 should be tested in all situations across nine innings of baseball to see what they’re really made of. As for last night, leaving Carlos Torres in to bat with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the eighth, instead of pinch-hitting Curtis Granderson, was a dangerous choice that just barely paid off. The entire reason behind that decision was so that Torres could face Giancarlo Stanton in the bottom of the eighth. The result?  Stanton cranked his 36th home run of the year, a magnificent bomb to left field.  Again, this is another case of hindsight after the fact, but I was baffled when I saw Torres toss a batting helmet on.  If it weren’t for a slick defensive play by Lucas Duda to rob a rocketed baseball off the bat Marcel Ozuna and end the inning, it most certainly could have backfired.


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Mejia Leaves Game With Forearm Bruise, Going For X-Rays Sat, 29 Mar 2014 02:47:18 +0000 jenrry mejia USATSI

10:00 PM

Jenrry Mejia was cruising on Friday night at Olympic Stadium until he was struck by a liner off the bat of Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Ryan Goins in the bottom of the fifth.

The ball struck Mejia in the right forearm and after a visit from Terry Collins and trainer Ray Ramirez, he was pulled from the game.

The team called it a bruise but said Mejia would get X-rays after the game. Terry Collins said he had a lump develop on his forearm very quickly.

Collins also said that John Lannan might be fallback if Mejia or Jon Niese is not OK.

Mejia was tabbed to start next Friday against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. 

More details to come…

5:10 PM 

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that according to Terry Collins, Jenrry Mejia may very well start next Friday at Citi Field against the Cincinnati Reds, with Daisuke Matsuzaka held back for a potential start two days later should Jonathon Niese be unable to come off the disabled list that day.

Rubin adds, rather than have Mejia and Matsuzaka on the Opening Day roster, the Mets will instead carry only four starting pitchers to begin the season, allowing them to have an extra bench player (Andrew Brown) for five games.

1:20 PM

Poor Jenrry Mejia… After a long road back from Tommy John surgery and at the precipice of officially being named the Mets fifth starter, a bunion on his right toe could derail his chances of making the opening day roster. That’s right, a bunion.

Mejia was actually forced to leave his last start early when it became too painful to continue pitching, and pitching coach Dan Warthen told reporters the bunion was still an issue when he threw his last bullpen.

Manager Terry Collins said this could become a factor in whether the team turns to Mejia or Daisuke Matsuzaka to start the season and may impact the fifth-starter race. However, nothing definitive has been decided as of yet.

Asked if he’d be okay for his start on Friday, Mejia said, “I feel pretty good. I’m very excited to pitch tomorrow.”

With Jon Niese feeling amazing and Matsuzaka set to start on Saturday, this fifth starter decision looks like it will go down to the wire.

bleed orange & blue  button

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Alderson and Warthen Apologize For Ethnic Slur Thu, 13 Mar 2014 03:54:17 +0000 warthen

The Mets issued statements on behalf of Sandy Alderson and pitching coach Dan Warthen, who used an ethnic slur while conversing with Daisuke Matsuzaka’s interpreter, Jeff Cutler, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Here’s what occurred:


Cutler and I turned around. It was Dan Warthen, the Mets pitching coach.

“I’m sorry I called you a ‘Chinaman’ yesterday,” Warthen told Cutler.

“It’s OK,” Cutler replied.

“I didn’t mean to insinuate –- I know you’re not Chinese,” Warthen said. He paused. “I thought it was a pretty good joke, though.”

“It was,” Cutler said, with a small laugh.

Warthen walked away.

I didn’t say anything, but I was startled. As a 27-year-old Chinese American who grew up in San Francisco, I couldn’t remember the last time I heard the term “Chinaman,” a derogatory word originally given by white Americans to Chinese immigrants in the 19th century.

Here are the two statements:

“I apologize for the thoughtless remarks that I made yesterday in the clubhouse,” Dan Warthen said in a statement released by the team. “They were a poor attempt at humor but were wrong and inappropriate in any setting.  I am very sorry.”

Said Alderson:  “On behalf of the entire organization, I apologize for the insensitive remarks made by of one of our staff members.  The remarks were offensive and inappropriate and the organization is very sorry.”

That these things can still happen in an MLB clubhouse is pretty sad…

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Parnell Returns From Sore Quad To Toss A Bullpen Sat, 22 Feb 2014 15:56:37 +0000 bobby parnell

Bobby Parnell returned to the mound today and threw a bullpen session this morning, two days after missing a scheduled bullpen on Thursday.

According to a report by Adam Rubin of ESPN New York on Friday, Parnell had his bullpen session put on hold temporarily due to an injured quadriceps muscle he got while covering first base during a drill Thursday.

Rubin said that he had been listed to throw Thursday, but the Mets decided to wait an extra day to be safe as he returns from surgery.

It now appears that everything is fine and maybe we’ll get some official word from Parnell later today.

Presented By Diehards

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Dice-K Still Remains In The Mix For The Mets Wed, 15 Jan 2014 15:38:54 +0000 daisuke matsuzaka

While there was no truth to last evening’s report that the Mets had reached an agreement with Daisuke Matsuzaka on a minor league deal – a report that was refuted by the Mets – Andy Martino of the Daily News writes that the Japanese righty still remains in the mix for the Amazins.

“The Mets are looking to fill out their starting rotation with additional depth, and a reunion with Matsuzaka remains a possibility, according to two people familiar with the team’s plans.” 

While a report yesterday out of Japan saying that the Mets were bringing Matsuzaka back was either inaccurate or premature, the veteran righthander remains in the mix, sources said.

I would venture a guess that Jenrry Mejia has a leg up on the final spot in the rotation, behind Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler, Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee. However, a little competition on a minor league deal wouldn’t hurt and could provide some depth in case of injury or ineffectiveness come April or May.

January 14, 8:30 PM

An earlier report that said that the Mets may re-sign RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka to a minor-league deal, has been shot down by at least two team officials who denied it, and possibly a third that told Adam Rubin that any report of a deal is “not true at all.”

The Mets have been rumored to be interested in about a half dozen pitchers this offseason, but so far no word that they’ve exchanged numbers with any of them.

I wouldn’t mind having Dice-K back, who seemed to rediscover his old self after three bad starts and a fix by pitching coach Dan Warthen.

After allowing 15 earned runs in his first 12.1 innings pitched, the former Japanese phenom held the opposition to just four runs in his next 26.1 inning spanning four starts. That resulted in a 3-0 record with a 1.37 ERA with a 0.835 WHIP to close out the season and finish with a flourish. Not bad, huh?

Overall he posted a 4.42 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in seven starts with the Mets. 

Presented By Diehards

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Upon Further Review: The Mets Coaching Staff Mon, 25 Nov 2013 17:54:50 +0000 terry collins 2

When the Mets renewed Terry Collins‘ contract at the end of September once the season had concluded, it was also announced that the entire coaching staff would return as well. This announcement didn’t come as a huge shock, but it was conceivable due to the fact that the crew has been the same since the start of the 2012 campaign. There has been criticism, praise, doubt, hopefulness, hopelessness, and devotion to the staff, but it still raises the question, Does the Coaching Staff Deserve to be Here? Let’s find out.

Bob Geren, Bench Coach

Bench coach Bob Geren was hired back in October in 2011, coming off a five year tenure as manager of the Oakland Athletics and replacing Ken Oberkfell. Although not completely favored among his players, Geren finished with a winning percentage just under .500 in over 700 games managed. As bench coach, he is responsible for assisting the manager in making late game decisions and serving as his right-hand-man, if you will. In my opinion, I don’t see anyone more certified than a former manager to fill that position. So I say Geren is fine in that role going forward. Another plus to his resume is Geren’s 289 games played at catcher in his major league career, coming up with a fielding percentage of .992 for the Yankees and Padres. I believe that is an extreme upside for Travis d’Arnaud and others going forward. And also, before every game this past year (home and away, including Spring Training), Geren and that day’s starting catcher, whether it be John Buck, Anthony Recker or others, would go out to the bullpen and practice blocking balls in the dirt and other catching tactics. I think that relationship between player and coach is absolutely invaluable.

Dan Warthen, Pitching Coach

Longtime pitching coach Dan Warthen was hired in 2008 when the managerial position changed hands from Willie Randolph to Jerry Manuel, replacing Rick Peterson. Warthen is well liked around the clubhouse and in the front office, always a plus. Pitchers say that he prepares them well for starts and he is one of the best coaches they have worked with. Obviously something has to be going well if Warthen is about to begin his sixth full season on the job, and the numbers don’t tell much different. From 2007 to 2008, the Mets pitching staff improved in ERA, strikeouts, complete games, SO/BB ratio, and H/9. Although Peterson was well liked by players and fans, Warthen was a nice improvement. I say Dan Warthen deserves to be here, and possibly for the long term, as his contract runs through the 2015 season.

Dave Hudgens, Hitting Coach

The 2011 signing of Dave Hudgens as hitting coach was, to say the least, surprising, considering he played in just six major league games, connecting on one base hit in seven at bats. It is obvious that the Mets offensive production has been down over the past few years, but is Hudgens really to blame? Although Marlon Byrd says that he deserves credit for reconstructing his swing, David Wright‘s production went down from 2010 to 2011, as did Angel Pagan and (although there may have been other reasons) Jason Bay. Hudgens is well liked by players, and he is the lone Mets staff member that participates on social media (@dmhudgens), but I think the Mets could do better when it comes to their hitting coach; there has even been talk of the Mets adding an assistant hitting coach.

Tim Teufel, Third Base Coach

Longtime fan favorite Tim Teufel rejoined the Mets in 2012, when he replaced Chip Hale as the third base coach. Teufel had been around the organization since 2001, but had not been with the big league club since his playing days from 1986 to 1991. Teufel brings with him eight years of minor league managing experience, compiling a 464-562 record in that span. His best year came in 2003 with the Brooklyn Cyclones, when they finished with a 47-28 record, winning the New York-Penn League. Personally, I love how aggressive Teufel is in the third base coaching box. He is never reluctant to send runners, and even when you think he made a bad decision, the runner is usually safe at home plate. Like I said before, Teufel is well liked by the fans, so I don’t believe his position will be in jeopardy any time soon. I’m looking forward to seeing Teufel in the coaching box on March 31st.

Tom Goodwin, First Base Coach

Tom Goodwin was only six years removed from his professional playing career when the Mets signed him in 2012 as the first base coach. Goodwin played 13 years in the major leagues with the Dodgers, Royals, Rangers, Rockies, Giants, and Cubs. His duties as a coach include “handling the outfielders and baserunning instruction,” according to the Mets media guide. Goodwin committed only 22 errors in 1,288 career games and went 369 for 487 on stolen base attempts, so he passes that test. Goodwin also frequently communicates with runners at first base (unlike Ricky Henderson, who I once saw talk to only a single runner during a nine inning game — that runner was Ramon Castro), so he passes that test too. So Tom Goodwin can stay for now. Any objections? Okay, let’s move on.

Ricky Bones, Bullpen Coach

What are the duties of the bullpen coach? To chart pitches and pick up the phone in the ‘pen? Who couldn’t do that? All kidding aside, Bones brings with him 11 years of big league experience split between seven teams. During this time, he posted an ERA just south of 5 and finished with 19 more losses than wins. Can we bring Guy Conti back?

Who doesn’t love a ‘stache like that? And a name like Ricardo Bones? Priceless.

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Are Mets Still Interested In Bringing Dice-K Back? Thu, 21 Nov 2013 20:18:13 +0000 Earlier this week I suggested things could heat up in the Hot Stove and this might be the time for the New York Mets to strike.

And, I didn’t mean Prince Fielder, or Brandon Allen for that matter.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson agreed the other day things could get warm, but wouldn’t say how close he’d get to the “Stove.’’

“We have to be realistic about the market and not sort of deny the inevitable,’’ Alderson said. “If the market is as robust as it seems to be, I think we have to acknowledge that.’’

OK, he acknowledges it. Then what?

“And, consistent with that acknowledgement, if we’re going to participate, we have to recognize that,’’ Alderson added.

The operative word in all that was “if.’’

daisuke matsuzaka

Well, are the Mets going to participate? A robust market means spending and Alderson’s checkbook is still under wraps.

Alderson said the team has been more active, but that has to mean working the phones because we’re not seeing anything public outside of Allen, the departures of Mike Baxter and LaTroy Hawkins, and, of course, the ones who got away – or are about to.

Because we’re not going to see Matt Harvey outside of a courtside shot of him at the Knicks game Wednesday night, the Mets are in need of pitching first and foremost. I’m aware of the crying for a power outfielder and the need of a shortstop, but the Mets only have three starters. Nothing happens without pitching.

It would have been sweet to get Josh Johnson, but that wasn’t going to happen. Meanwhile, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang could get away. Late season pick-ups last year, both provided quality innings at the back end of the rotation. In a combined 11 starts, only twice – both times by Matsuzaka – did they not get out of the fifth.

Alderson said he wanted veteran innings at the back end, and these two are as veteran as you can get. And, what they gave the Mets is what they are seeking now. Sure, the Mets want to do better. But, better means spending more.

Matsuzaka pitched well in September after pitching coach Dan Warthen tinkered with his mechanics and got him to speed up his delivery. My concern is he pitched well enough for him to catch another team’s eye and might be willing to give him two years. The presumption is the most the Mets will offer is one year plus an option. That would mean the Mets would lose him.

It’s still November, and there’s plenty of time remaining, but that’s not the issue. It’s a matter of who will be remaining when the Mets are ready to do more than talk on the phone.


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Is It Time For A Mike Pelfrey Encore? Thu, 07 Nov 2013 18:36:05 +0000 Washington Nationals v New York MetsCould the New York Mets’ desperate need for starting pitching lead them back to Mike Pelfrey?

Seriously. Should GM Sandy Alderson decided there’s not much in the free-agent market, and with the Twins moving faster than the Mets regarding Bronson Arroyo, there are probably worse ideas than re-signing Pelfrey.

Pelfrey, released by the Twins, made $4 million last year, so whatever the price it isn’t outlandish for a fifth starter. Pelfrey might also fit in the bullpen, where the Mets contemplated using him in 2007.

The numbers said Pelfrey had a miserable 2013 season, going 5-13 with a 5.19 ERA and 1.552 WHIP. On the plus side, the elbow injury that sidelined him for all but three starts in 2012 appears to be fine as he did make 29 starts and worked 152.2 innings, would is an acceptable workload for a No. 5 starter.There can be numerous reasons for his poor record, including: 1) getting acclimated to a new league, 2) pitching against the designated hitter, 3) pitching in a park with friendlier dimensions than Citi Field, 4) rebounding from the injury, 5) being away from Dan Warthen, a pitching coach he trusts and one who appeared to straighten him out prior to the injury.

There’s also the potential that at age 29 he’s already washed up and is just bad. You have to consider all the possibilities.

Even so, the market doesn’t appear to be hot for Pelfrey, but at 29 he’s young enough to where he can turn it around.

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Did The Mets Fix Dice-K Only To Lose Him? Mon, 21 Oct 2013 15:59:52 +0000 Even knowing that the New York Mets would not have Matt Harvey next season, there was a slight glimmer of optimism they might have enough to piece together a rotation and spend elsewhere.

That glimmer is fading.

daisuke matsuzakaPitching coach Dan Warthen fixed Daisuke Matsuzaka’s long and cumbersome delivery, complete with a hitch. With a faster delivery, Matsuzaka showed he could be the real deal. After a rocky first two starts, Matsuzaka settled in to become one of the Mets’ most reliable starters in September.

Matsuzaka finished at 3-3 with a 4.42 ERA in seven starts with the Mets. His fastball returned with bite as evidenced by his 33-16 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He averaged just under eight strikeouts per nine innings.

The Mets were interested when Matsuzaka came out of Japan, but didn’t come close to matching Boston with the qualifying negotiating offer to his Japanese team.

Matsuzaka earned $1.5 million this season from the Mets, who picked him up after Cleveland released him at the end of spring training.

The Mets also signed innings-eater Aaron Harang, Sept. 1, after his release from Seattle. Harang, who has also pitched for Cincinnati, San Diego and the Dodgers, is a reliable workhorse. From 2004 through this season, Harang has pitched less than 150 innings only twice, including this year when he worked a combined 143.1 innings with the Mariners and Mets.

Harang gave the Mets six innings in three of his four starts, and five in the other. He was 0-1 with a representative 3.52 ERA, but struck out 26 in 23 innings. However, he did give up five homers.

What Harang and Matsuzaka did was log enough innings to conserve the bullpen and prevent the Mets from unraveling the last month of the season.

What Harang and Matsuzaka also did was impressive to enough scouts to where somebody will make them an offer to pry them away if the Mets go low-ball. The last thing a journeyman pitcher wants to do is not leave an impression in September.

This would not be something new to the Mets, as both Chris Capuano and Chris Young proved enough in their Flushing auditions for another team to take them away.

They aren’t the only ones.

Carlos Torres, who previously pitched in Japan, Colorado and with the Chicago White Sox, was an asset as a spot starter, long reliever and situational reliever this season. In 33 games with the Mets, nine of which were starts, Torres was 4-6 with a 3.44 ERA.

He pitched 86.1 innings, which isn’t bad considering he wasn’t on their radar in spring training. He struck out 75 and walked just 17 with a career-best 1.112 WHIP.

Torres, who made $415,000 this season, will leave if the Mets don’t tender him a contract.

So, that feeling of holding the fort until Rafael Montero is ready, and to a larger extent, until 2015, is giving way to a sense the Mets might have done it again and fixed several pitchers to where somebody else will take them away from them.

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Matt Harvey And The Velocity Trap Fri, 04 Oct 2013 13:48:15 +0000 matt harvey

Wouldn’t it be great if Matt Harvey wasn’t really injured? If it was just some sort of minor strain that was blown way out of proportion by Dan Warthen, Ray Ramirez and “Dr. James Andrews?” A coaching staff conspiracy if you will? In lieu of imposing hard innings limits on Harvey and Zack Wheeler perhaps they fabricated the whole thing. The season was obviously a lost cause, why not implement this ingenious little medical reuse to ensure the front office thinks twice before dealing from a purported strength in starting pitching? No?

I’m kidding of course. I think it fair to say Harvey did indeed hurt his elbow, but oddly enough Matt Harvey’s injury may have intruded in the front office’s decision making process at just the right time to effectively derail notions of trading from our pitching depth, like a giant MRI wrench tossed into the gears. In this sense, Harvey’s injury may actually benefit the Mets in the long run, particularly if it dissuades team officials from trading some of the more important and promising cogs on our minor league pitching rosters.

My sense is that one of Noah Syndergaard or Rafael Montero was slated to be traded this Winter and (particularly with all the talk about adding a free agent starter) I no longer believe that is the case. This is a good thing. It is good because while home runs put fannies in seats, pitching wins championships. It is good because it keeps Montero in a Met uniform, and Montero, if he remains a Met, will win more games for the Mets than Syndergaard, Wheeler, and maybe even Harvey. There, I said it.

Now hear me out before you start throwing cabbages and tomatoes. There’s been a staggering volume of research and data surrounding pitching injuries in recent years in an effort to get to the bottom of why so many pitchers end up blowing their elbows out. The consensus, at least anecdotally, bemoans a time when men were men and pitchers routinely threw 300 innings. Sadly, most analytics seem to point to breakdowns in mechanics and sudden increases in workloads, when the real culprit may be something far simpler.

The radar gun.

Since the advent of the radar gun, scouts have taken copious data on velocity as a virtual be all end all to a given prospect’s “chances.” Rather than taking a more informed approach to the craft of pitching, which is what scouts did prior to the radar gun, these days the heart of a scouting report involves whether a prospect can “touch 97.” The idea behind this is that you can teach the other stuff, you can teach anyone to throw a change-up, but you cant teach 97 mph. It also makes the scout’s job a lot easier. There was a time when a hard luck prospect on a bad team who didn’t throw very hard but who nevertheless had a knack for getting guys out still had a shot, these days not so much.

Harvey threw harder in 2013 than he’d ever thrown before. He was blowing batters away with high 90’s heat late in games and he routinely seemed to run out of gas in the 8th. It was amazing to watch but you’ve got to wonder if he’d have been better served had he dialed it back a notch and whether he might have actually completed a few more games that way. You want to know why so many guys blow their elbows and shoulders out? Look no further than our contemporary velocity trap. These guys are bigger, stronger and maybe better conditioned than baseball players have ever been before, but the human body can only do so much, and the human elbow and rotator cuff can only throw so hard. There are structural, mechanical and anatomical limitations to how hard a person can throw, and while we see an increase in the number of players who can throw in the upper 90’s with every year, we aren’t going to see anyone throwing 110 or 115 mph in the near future. It’s not physically possible.

Barry Bearak penned a fascinating piece in the N.Y. Times a couple of weeks ago in which he profiled Dr. Glen Fleisig’s life and career as a player (he was actually a Met for a while) and a biomechanical engineer. He quoted Fleisig:

“Everyone is trying to throw faster these days, especially youngsters,” said Fleisig, the biomedical engineer, whose office is in Birmingham. “The ticket to being scouted is to light up someone’s radar gun.” In the process, he said, pitchers are populating the practices of orthopedic surgeons.

He also concluded that pitchers have been getting hurt with greater frequency because more of them are big enough and strong enough to approach that dangerous limit.

“Oh, there may be an outlier, one exception here or there,” he said. “But for major league baseball pitchers as a group of elites, the top isn’t going to go up anymore. With better conditioning and nutrition and mechanics, more pitchers will be toward that top, throwing at 95 or 100. But the top has topped out.”

Over the past 25 years or so pitchers have been running up against an anatomical wall with greater and greater frequency because of improved conditioning and nutrition … this is why we have witnessed this explosion of arm injuries.

This is why Montero, a pitcher who relies on impeccable control, on poise and guile and intelligence more so than sheer throw through a brick wall velocity, a guy who only throws as hard as he needs to, will have a longer career and will win more games for the Mets than our prized cadre of fireballers. The irony with Harvey is that his stuff and his instincts are so good you could argue he doesn’t need to throw that hard … but don’t tell that to the guys working in the radar gun factories!

Does anyone here really think these cigar smoking beer guzzling 300 inning guys from the good old days (it was estimated albeit crudely that Walter Johnson’s fastball came in at around 86 mph) threw as hard as the Matt Harveys of our world? Not a snowball’s chance in Bora Bora … the reason they lasted so long was because they only threw as hard as the situation called for. They were locating, they were changing speeds, they were spinning nasty breaking pitches, they were throwing smart, and they didn’t have radar guns judging their every pitch. There’s a reason why knuckleballers can pitch well into their 40’s.

For anyone interested, here is a handy dandy slideshow presentation on pitching biomechanics (in PDF) by Fleisig himself.

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Pitching Coach Dan Warthen Also Gets A 2-Year Deal Mon, 30 Sep 2013 18:03:53 +0000 Andy Martino of the Daily News is reporting that the Mets have given pitching coach Dan Warthen a two-year contract, according to front office sources.

Earlier today, Sandy Alderson confirmed that all coaches the coaches were being retained, but Warthen is the only one to receive a multi-year deal.

Warthen has been the Mets’ pitching coach since Jerry Manuel took over for Willie Randolph in 2008, but has worked on a series of one-year deals, until now. Martino also adds that he is also invited to participate in organizational meetings this week in Florida.

Wow, didn’t see that coming, but you know what?

He’s the only one, and that includes Collins too, that actually had great results this season on a performance level.

Matt Harvey was phenomenal, Zack Wheeler got through a rough start to finish on high note and is primed for a solid season in 2014, Dillon Gee delivered his best season ever, and once Niese returned from injury he was incredible.

Lets not forget Jeremy Hefner and the transformations of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang after terrible first starts.

In the bullpen. Bobby Parnell has a career year as a closer, and journeyman LaTroy Hawkins became a key piece as did rookie Scott Rice.

I’m okay with this… It’s Dave Hudgens I have the real problem with…

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Could Dice-K Matsuzaka Be “That” Guy? Thu, 26 Sep 2013 13:38:51 +0000 daisuke matsuzaka

I’ll spare you the 50 word preamble as to why Sandy Alderson is looking to add a veteran starting pitcher this offseason… He just is and if you don’t know why, you must be new here.

Yesterday, I was inspired to weigh in on Bronson Arroyo when I read a post elsewhere that called him “the Mets’ best free agent option this offseason.” (title has since been changed) Dear God, I hope not… If Arroyo is the best, I hate to ask, but who’s the second best?

You can read my thoughts on Arroyo here, but what I wanted to do for now is throw out the possibility of whether Daisuke Matsuzaka could be that veteran pitcher Sandy Alderson is looking for… Could Dice-K be “that” guy?

Think about it…

As with any player, there’s some pros and cons to going with Dice-K of course, but what attracts me more, besides his recent run of stellar starts, is his price tag. He would obviously be far cheaper than Arroyo and we wouldn’t need to make more than a one-year commitment.

Given the bounty of young arms on the way and those already here, I think it would be silly to pay in upwards of $10 million for a veteran starting pitcher who is looking for a multi-year pact.

Realistically the hope is that Rafael Montero will join the rotation by May if he doesn’t make the team out of Spring Training. Then you still have Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom as legitimate options for a mid-season promotion. So theoretically, with Matt Harvey, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler already set, all we need is someone to bridge the gap between Opening Day and Montero’s expected debut.

Dice-K has worked extensively with pitching coach Dan Warthen and he has rewarded Terry Collins for his patience when many were calling for him to be released. The switch in leagues gives the righthander a short-term advantage, but don’t underestimate the fact there’s no designated hitters in the opposing lineup – save interleague play.

Yesterday, Matsuzaka tossed a gem, hurling 7.2 scoreless innings against the playoff-bound Reds and holding them to just four hits – none of whom advanced past second base.

Manager Terry Collins pointed to Matsuzaka’s much improved command and increase in velocity as reasons for his recent success. Matsuzaka is 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his last three starts for the Mets, while striking out 15 of the 74 batters he faced. Collins said after the game that Dice-K should be considered if Sandy is looking to add a veteran pitcher for next season.

“He’s such a great competitor,” Collins said. “I’m not surprised that he’s settled down and pitched this well.”

The Bergen Record also reported that Matsuzaka said he’d be honored if offered a contract to return to the Mets in 2014.

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LaTroy Hawkins One Away From 100 Career Saves, Has Earned A 2014 Encore With Mets Sat, 21 Sep 2013 04:34:48 +0000 latroy hawkins

LaTroy Hawkins has now tossed 11.0 straight scoreless innings and is unscored upon in 22 of his last 24 games. Hawkins’ 11 saves, including last night are the most since he also had 11 in 2009. His next save will be the 100th save of his career.

Hawkins has made 69 appearances this year, second on the team behind Scott Rice who has appeared in 73 games. Amazingly, Hawkins ranks 20th all-time with 940 games pitched.

He has been one of the best and most consistent relievers all season long for the Mets, but since taking over as the team’s closer, Hawkins has been outstanding. Earlier in the week, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports ranked Hawkins as one of the top free agents signings of the offseason.

Hawkins has posted some impressive numbers this season including a 3.12 FIP, 3.06 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 67.2 innings. His walk rate of 1.33 BB/9 is among the best in the league for relievers as is his 5.30 K/BB. He has a 19.1 K% and has held batters to a .289 OBP, second only to Bobby Parnell.

Last week, Andy Martino of the Daily News reported that there is mutual interest between the Mets and Hawkins returning next season.

Hawkins told me on Sunday that he wants to return. He loves playing for Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen, and wants to live with his family in Manhattan for the summer; for a variety of reasons, they were not able to do so next summer.

Once the pitcher declared his intentions, I ran this by a front office contact, and came away with a clear answer: Happy with the veteran’s performance and personality, the Mets would love to re-sign him. In a winter that is expected to involve the pursuit of high-profile free agents, Hawkins will not be the first priority, but he wants to play for the Mets, and the Mets want him.

Why, by the way, is he so effective at an advanced baseball age, able to slip into the closer role after Bobby Parnell’s season-ending surgery? On Sunday, Hawkins cited improved health. In 2011, he was recovering from shoulder surgery, and last year was slowed by a broken pinky on his right hand.

As I said at the time, I’m always skeptical about bringing back a player that is past the age of 40. But I’m more than willing to make an exception in Hawkins’ case and would be all for an encore in 2014.

In addition to his solid performance this season, the crafty righthander has assumed a much needed leadership role in the clubhouse and is looked up to by many of the younger players on the team. Bringing him back for another year wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

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Mets and LaTroy Hawkins Have Mutual Interest In Returning For 2014 Season Mon, 16 Sep 2013 18:59:49 +0000 latroy hawkins 2

Even though the Mets’ bullpen ranks 13th in the NL with a 4.09 ERA and 14th with a .261 BAA, there has been many positive developments as opposed to 2011-2012 when Sandy Alderson was forced to completely revamp the pen and hit the reset button.

Before suffering a herniated disk in his neck that was operated on last week, Bobby Parnell was establishing himself as one of the league’s top closers, using his knuckle curve to finally grow into the role and post some gaudy numbers. By all accounts, he should be ready for Spring Training.

Another nice surprise was 31-year old rookie Scott Rice. It may have taken the southpaw more than 13 years to get to the majors, but once he arrived he became a staple in the Mets pen. His 73 appearances leads the team and the league and you can bet he’ll be back next season.

One of the more remarkable performers out of the pen has come from LaTroy Hawkins who signed a minor league deal with the Mets last offseason. The 40-year old righthander was already giving the Mets more than they could hope for, but when Parnell went down and he stepped in as closer, Hawkins took his game to a whole other level.

Hawkins earned his 10th save of the season on Saturday and in 65.2 innings pitched he’s posted a 1.18 WHIP and 3.15 ERA while striking out 52 and walking just ten batters.

According to Andy Martino of the Daily News, there is mutual interest between the Mets and Hawkins returning next season.

Hawkins told me on Sunday that he wants to return. He loves playing for Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen, and wants to live with his family in Manhattan for the summer; for a variety of reasons, they were not able to do so next summer.

Once the pitcher declared his intentions, I ran this by a front office contact, and came away with a clear answer: Happy with the veteran’s performance and personality, the Mets would love to re-sign him. In a winter that is expected to involve the pursuit of high-profile free agents, Hawkins will not be the first priority, but he wants to play for the Mets, and the Mets want him.

Why, by the way, is he so effective at an advanced baseball age, able to slip into the closer role after Bobby Parnell’s season-ending surgery? On Sunday, Hawkins cited improved health. In 2011, he was recovering from shoulder surgery, and last year was slowed by a broken pinky on his right hand.

I’m always skeptical in situations like this, especially when a player is already past the age of 40. I usually just thank our lucky stars that we got the performance that we did. But I’m a little flexible on bringing back Hawkins, and most of that stems from the leadership role he’s assumed in the clubhouse. Maybe bringing him back for another year isn’t such a bad idea.

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From the Organization That Brought Us Generation K, the Mets Now Present Generation DL Tue, 27 Aug 2013 15:12:58 +0000 matt harvey

I can’t even count how many times broadcasters, commentators or play-by-play announcers have started a sentence with: “The Mets, an organization known for pitching…” Really??? Perhaps it’s time to rethink exactly how knowledgeable the Mets are when it comes to pitching.

In one of the first scenes in the classic Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella is driving a tractor, his daughter Karin at his side. As he regales her with stories of Shoeless Joe Jackson, he says, “His glove was where triples went to die.” With the latest injury to yet another of our aces, I’m starting to wonder if perhaps Flushing is where careers go to die.

“Matt Harvey joins a long list of Mets greats like Seaver, Koosman, Matlack and Gooden.”

We’ve heard these remarks and ones similar to them repeatedly during the first 5+ months of 2013. But think about that. Seaver last pitched for the Mets 30 years ago, Koosman not since 1978, Matlack’s last start was September 30, 1977. And for all intents and purposes, Doc’s career flamed out after just 3 seasons.

You can choose almost any team in baseball and if you’re willing to go back thirty five years you are sure to find numerous great pitchers. The Cubs: Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Greg Maddux, Rick Reuschel. The Dodgers: Andy Messersmith, Fernando Valenzuela, Clayton Kershaw. The Royals: Bret Saberhagen, Mark Gubicza, Dennis Leonard. Yet, the Mets have us convinced that somehow we have cornered the market on pitching greatness.

Upon closer examination, one can see failures have far outnumbered successes. This is not something recent either. Rather it’s a trend that began long before Terry Collins and Dan Warthen. As we wait for Matt Harvey to return, probably not until 2015, we really shouldn’t be surprised. He is just the latest in a long line of major miscalculations this organization has made.

tug-mcgrawWay back on December 3, 1974, management traded one of the most beloved figures in team history. Tug McGraw struggled a bit that season and had some minor shoulder problems. Thinking they were being sneaky and shrewd by unloading damaged goods, the Mets discarded Tug to the Phillies.

The Phillies quickly realized Tug’s sub-par season was simply due to a cyst, something the Mets missed. The cyst was removed and Tug would pitch for Philly for 9 years. Ya gotta believe the Phillies had the last laugh. As the Mets staked claim to the NLE cellar, the Phillies would make the post-season 5 times over 7 years. When the organization won their first World Series in 1980, it was Tug on the mound recording the final out.

With Seaver and Matlack gone and Koosman itching to go, Craig Swan became the de-facto ace of the Mets staff. In 1978, his 2.43 ERA was lowest in the league. He posted good numbers in 79 as well. In 1980, however, he missed half the season with a torn rotator cuff. In 1981, Swan was put on the DL three different times with various injuries. He rebounded in 82 but in spring training of 83, he felt something pop in his elbow. His career was finished.

The dark days of Grant’s Tomb would surely end with the emergence of Tim Leary. Leary, the first pick for the Mets in 1979, was the newest addition to ‘The Next Tom Seaver’ club. On April 12, 1981, Leary took the mound on a cold, damp day at Wrigley Field. After striking out 3 of the first 6 batters he faced in the majors, Leary blew out his arm and was pulled from the game. He was never the same. He missed the remainder of the 81 campaign, was reinjured in spring training 1982 and missed that entire season as well. He returned in 83, a shell of the promise he once possessed. After pitching just 64 innings over 2 seasons, he was traded to Kansas City. He found moderate success in KC and Milwaukee. In 1988, he was a member of the Dodgers. After the Dodgers upset the Mets in the playoffs and Oakland in the Series, Tim Leary added ‘NL Comeback Player of the Year’ award to his World Series ring.

There’d never been a pitcher in NY that captured the hearts of fans the way Dwight Gooden did. Doc became larger than life. His impressive stats literally were mind-boggling. Long standing records fell as Doc piled up wins, strikeouts and awards en route to Cooperstown. After his first 3 seasons, Doctor K was 58-19 with 744 strikeouts in 744 2/3 IP. He’d tossed 35 complete games in three years. His personal problems definitely cost him a shot at greatness he never achieved. But there were other issues as well, on-the-field issues. Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre attempted to change Gooden’s delivery in an attempt to prolong his career, even though he never had been injured. In his Cy Young season of 1985, Doc tossed 276 2/3 innings. Since then, only one pitcher, Roger Clemens, has tossed more in a single season. Experts have estimated that Doc threw 10,000 pitches before turning 21.

generation k pulsipher, wilson, isringhausenFast forward to the mid 90’s. Licking our wounds from the dynasty that never materialized in the 80’s, we were optimistic about the future. This time there was no ‘next Tom Seaver.’ Instead, there was the next Seaver, Koosman and Matlack. Ah, yes, Generation K was on the way. It quickly became apparent, however, that Generation K was not a trio of superstars but rather an exclamation point on Mets pitching futility.

Bill Pulsipher was a 2nd round pick in 1991. Called up in 95, the rookie tossed a hefty total of 218 innings between the majors and the minors. He then proceeded to miss all of 1996 and most of 1997 with elbow injuries. He returned…kinda. From 98-00, he tossed a total of 21 innings while amassing a 4.63 ERA.

The ‘Koosman’ of Generation K was Jason Isringhausen. He debuted in July 95 and did well, going 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA. The following year, however, the string of endless almost uncanny injuries began. He was sidelined with a pulled rib cage muscle, bone spurs and a torn labrum. Through 6 starts in his following year, 1997, his ERA was an embarrassing 7.58. He then suffered a broken wrist and while coming back from that came down with tuberculosis. He missed all of 1998 due to reconstructive elbow surgery. After coming back from that, the Mets traded him to Oakland. Put into the closer role, he posted a stellar 2.13 ERA. Two years later, as the closer for St. Louis, he would lead the league in saves with 47.

The third member of this infamous trio was Paul Wilson. Wilson was the most heralded with the greatest upside. In spite of experts questioning his mechanics and unorthodox delivery, the Mets made him the #1 pick overall in 1994. He joined the club in 1996 and after going 5-12 with a 5.38 ERA, he was put on the DL with tendinitis. Shoulder surgery prevented him from pitching at all in 97. Wilson ended up in Tampa Bay and Cincinnati before giving up on baseball and retiring with a record of 40-58 and a 4.86 career ERA.

johan pedroIt was a new century but the same old pitching woes. Pedro Martinez had been the top pitcher in the AL for nearly a decade. When the Mets signed the 33 year-old righty, we knew that his best days were most likely behind him. But even an aging Pedro is better than most guys in their prime. His first year, 2005, his 15 wins and 2.82 ERA was tops on the team. The following year, however, he missed one third of the season with 2 separate injuries. He was also unavailable for the post-season. After tossing 28 innings in 2007, Pedro underwent surgery on his rotator cuff. In 08, after coming back, he was sidelined for 2 months with a hamstring injury. Over his last 2 years with the Mets, he threw only 138 innings.

If Pedro was the most dominant RHP in the AL, Johan Santana was the most dominant LHP in the league. The Mets forked over $137 million for 6 years. In 08, his first season in New York, the perennial All-Star pitched well, going 16-7 with a 2.53 ERA. His 206 K’s set the team record by a lefty. Late in the year, a torn meniscus put him on the DL. In 09, Johan was pitching well again. 13-9 with a 3.13 ERA. Then came another trip to the DL, this one thanks to bone chips. In September 2010, with an 11-9 record and ERA just below 3.00, Santana underwent surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. Three straight seasons cut short with injuries. After missing all of 2011, Johan returned in 2012. Although he tossed the first no-no in team history, he struggled all year. At 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA, Johan was put on the DL twice in the second half. In spring training of 2013, he re-tore his surgically repaired shoulder. With roughly one third of the Mets salary tied up in Santana this season, his career may very well be over.

In the spring we lost our ace. Yesterday, we lost another ace.

As much as we’d like to blame someone, we really can’t. Terry Collins and Dan Warthen have been closely monitoring Harvey’s pitch count and IP. Only twice this year did Harvey surpass 120 pitches (121) and his workload from 2012 to 2013 has only increased 9 innings, from 169 to 178. Perhaps it’s merely bad luck but Harvey is just the latest in a long history of Mets pitching tragedies.

We all hope that Matt will recover—and recover quickly. Tommy John surgery is most likely in his future and if so, he’ll be gone until 2015. Let’s hope when he comes back he continues his quest to finally, at long last, be the next Tom Seaver. And not the next Tim Leary.

In the meantime, Harvey will join on the disabled list pitcher Jeremy Hefner, pitcher Bobby Parnell, pitcher Jenrry Mejia, pitcher Johan Santana, pitcher Jeurys Familia and pitcher Frank Francisco. Looks like Generation K has been replaced with Generation DL.

With all these injured arms and the Mets track record of handling pitching, I can’t help but wonder if Zack Wheeler will be calling his agent anytime soon, pleading, “Get me the hell out of here.”

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D’Arnaud Rips A Double For First Major League Hit Wed, 21 Aug 2013 12:58:22 +0000 In case you missed it, here is Travis d’Arnaud ripping a double into the gap for his first major league hit.

“Finally got it out of the way,” d’Arnaud said, according to ESPN New York. “Thankful my teammates were all there every time I kept coming to the dugout without a hit and they were all backing me up and what a wonderful feeling.”

I love how fluid and level his swing is, which you can get a good look at in the slow-motion segment in the video.

The hit came in final at-bat and 11th overall since being called up. D’Arnaud went 1-for-4 on Tuesday night and struck out twice.

Original Post

With the decision having already been made that Travis d’Arnaud will not only remain with the Mets when John Buck is activated from paternity leave before today’s game, but also that the young catcher will assume the lion’s share of playing time, the Mets have certainly made the right decision.

“One of the things we wanted to see over the three days is, was he within an acceptable range of performance,” Sandy Alderson told the NY Post. “Certainly, he demonstrated that, way beyond the threshold.”

Alderson cited the additional exposure d’Arnaud will receive to the Mets pitching staff over the next few weeks and the tutelage he can receive from catching instructor Bob Geren as secondary reasons for keeping him in the major leagues.

The most important bond on a major league team is that relationship between a catcher and his pitchers. A good catcher knows each of his pitcher’s capabilities and knows how to get the best out of them in every start. Together they work on a game-plan for success.

Additionally, d’Arnaud will become acquainted with some of the weaknesses and strengths of the opposing batters which will aid in improving his game-calling skills.

I’m not too worried that he’s gone hitless in his first three games. Even Miguel Cabrera would find any hits batting in front of Omar Quintanilla. The take-away here is that he’s taken the walks rather than swinging at air.

As foe Buck, he has served us well as the Mets’ starting catcher this season (sometimes), but now it’s time for him to step aside and let the team move forward with their new catching prodigy as they look to the future.

One small step for the 2013 Mets season, but one giant leap for Mets-kind.

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Original Post

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports is reporting that Travis d’Arnaud will remain with the Mets when John Buck returns from his paternity leave on Tuesday.

They key piece from the R.A. Dickey trade last offseason, collected two more walks today and is 0-4 in in his eight plate appearances, but none of that matters as the Mets have seen enough to decide that the future is now for their new starting catcher.

D’Arnaud was batting .304/.487/.554 in 78 at-bats for Triple-A Las Vegas this season before his promotion on Saturday, and despite some jitters he is happy to be here. “I am just trying to take it day by day and trying to have as  much fun as I can,” d’Arnaud said.

Describing his debut on Saturday with his parents on hand to watch, the 24-year old catcher said he was awestruck. “It was one of those feelings everyone dreams they can have,” d’Arnaud said. “I can’t even describe it.”

The young backstop has been spending time off the field working with and getting to know his pitchers, while also working closely with pitching coach Dan Warthen and catching coach Bob Geren.

Matt Harvey spoke about throwing to his new battery mate after the game.

“I got to work with him in spring training, so it wasn’t like a completely new person,” said Harvey. ”We were not quite on the same page… but I knew that going in… overall I thought he did a great job.”

This is the right move for the Mets and the experience will serve D’Arnaud well when he arrives to camp in the Spring.

And while it may mean a demotion to Las Vegas for Anthony Recker, he’ll be back in two weeks when roster’s expand. The biggest impact will be on Buck, who now eases into a backup role after starting 99 games for the Mets. But he must have known this day coming long ago. He’s a seasoned vet and knows it’s just baseball. Buck won’t be back next season, but Recker could return to resume a backup role again in 2014.

But this is all about the future… With D’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores now both with the team and playing regularly, we get to see both of our top hitting prospects begin what we hope will be long and successful careers with the Mets. It’s almost reminiscent of when David Wright and Jose Reyes both began their major league careers and came into their own together. And just as it was back then, it’s all so very exciting.

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Did Mets Play Russian Roulette With Mejia’s Elbow? Sun, 18 Aug 2013 21:38:44 +0000 mejiaAnother day, another injury for the New York Mets, and not surprisingly, one involving a pitcher. Jenrry Mejia didn’t make it out of the fourth Saturday night in San Diego because of pain caused by a bone spur in is right elbow. His season is in jeopardy as he likely will be placed on the disabled list today.

This is not new for Mejia – he left a game in Miami, July 31 – and he is supposed to have off-season surgery.

What has been reported is pitching coach Dan Warthen said, “Mejia did not warm up well,’’ which should make anybody wonder why he started in the first place.

If somebody is known to be hurt, is scheduled for surgery, and has difficulty warming up, one would think caution would be exercised. One would think.

Yes, I am more cautious when it comes to injuries than the Mets. I also know that after covering baseball for two-and-a-half decades, one should bet the over. It rarely breaks the other way.

A roster move will be made today, so figure Mejia going on the disabled list. Of course, that doesn’t take away what further injury might have been sustained Saturday.

General manager Sandy Alderson spoke like the lawyer in defending starting Mejia.

“We all know that he’s had some issues with his elbow,” Alderson said. “He was pitching to [pain] tolerance. That tolerance was exceeded tonight apparently and he had to come out. The doctor here took a look at him, but at this point it’s about his symptoms. They were obviously severe tonight, and we’ll see where this takes us.’’

Sometimes, you just want to scream listening to Alderson.

If the Mets knew he had issues, he shouldn’t have started following a bad warm-up. He should have been given an MRI. And, what in the hell is pitching to pain tolerance? Is it pitching just before serious damage is done?

The Mets, predictably, said there was no chance of further injury. Care to guarantee that assessment?

If surgery is to happen, it is to remove a pain-producing problem. Yes, bone spurs can cause damage, and yes, it can cause a pitcher to overcompensate in his delivery and produce a residual injury.

Alderson has been around long enough to know both possibilities.

Mejia was pitching well since returning to the Mets, but after the Miami incident, considering the team already determined he’d have surgery, it should have been done immediately.

The Mets are going out of their way to protect Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler with innings limits, but they saw no reason to protect Mejia, who already had one Tommy John surgery.

The Mets mishandled Mejia in juggling his roles several times under Jerry Manuel, and it appears they are doing it again.

Why are they playing fast and loose with Mejia?

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