Baseball

Sandy Alderson Talks About Matz Spur Issue

 

 

Alderson-e1428582548829Here in DC, we had a chance to chat with Sandy Alderson on the Steven Matz situation. The bottom line is the Mets will watch him closely pushing his scheduled start to Thursday at Citifield vs the Cubs. Here is that chat:

 

62816 Sandy on Matz Situation

 

After we chatted with Sandy we got some reaction from Steven Matz:

6-28-16 Matz Raw

 

 

 


Mets Take The Series In DC Behind Matz and Familia

 

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For the first time in his career, Steven Matz faced the Washington Nationals and they got a first-hand view of why this southpaw will make life very difficult for them in 2016 and beyond. He is super talented but what I like most about him is a 2 word phrase- NEVER AFRAID.

That was best illustrated in the 8th inning as he faced Bryce Harper with the game on the line and fell behind the reigning MVP 2-0. No problem-Matz threw a strike and then induced him to hit an inning ending groundout completing 8 innings of scoreless baseball in the rubber game of this 3 game set in DC.

He is now 11-1 in 14 regular season games as a major league pitcher and after that disastrous first start of the season his ERA has dipped to an attractive 2.36.  He is 7-1 on the season leading all major league rookies in that category. But more than that it is his quiet confidence that he brings to the mound that is so impressive. "I think in NY he has fallen under the radar", says Met third basemen David Wright, "but make no mistake-this guy can be so dominant on the hill."

This has been a very interesting 3 days for this team-losing Lucas Duda followed by the Matt Harvey hysteria of yesterday but Matz seemed to calm down all those choppy waters with an outstanding performance against a very talented Washington National lineup.

The Mets now sit even in the loss column with the Nats but upon further review (yes that is now a baseball term) they have played far more games inside the division than the Mets. The reigning NL champs have played 21 games inside the division while the Nats have played 31. In fact, Dusty Baker's squad has not played one game against the NL West all season while the Mets have already played 14 versus that division.

To me the message is clear: despite the inconsistencies of Matt Harvey, this Met pitching staff is loaded and by the way, armed with the best closer in the National League in Jeurys Familia. To me that is gloom and doom for the rest of the league even the Chicago Cubs who after a great start, everyone has anointed as the team to beat. That's hard for me to fathom since the Mets swept them in the NLCS in 2015. That's why we play the games.  

For now, the Mets go home to celebrate the 86 championship team this weekend and at the same time, show the baseball world that very much like that team of 30 years ago, this 2016 team has home run bats coupled with the deepest pitching staff in baseball.  

 


Matt Harvey Just Making Things Harder For Himself

 

 

Those of you who follow me know I am the first to give the player EVENuudzbqeegyh2w4vef9q6025sRY benefit of the doubt because I respect their talent level and understand dealing with the media could be a tough task. But Matt Harvey not talking to the media is wrong on so many levels.

Forget about us--we will always pull an audible and get quotes from others but this is so unfair to his fellow Met teammates. Kevin Plawecki was forced to answer questions and by the look on his face you can see he was perturbed. And not because of any reason other than he had no idea how Harvey wanted him to answer the questions. But he did it because he is a good foot soldier.

I have covered this team for over 30 years and have interviewed Met pitchers after their toughest moments-like Doc Gooden & Ron Darling  after the 88 NLCS or Johan Santana as he struggled to stay on the mound or John Franco after a tough blown save and every time they faced the music.  The answers were not profound or dramatic but they did what they had to do. They answered the questions so their fellow teammates were not forced to be put in an impossible position.

They also did it so the fans who follow them day after day can hear from them and lets not forget--ultimately the fans pay the salaries of these players by both attending the games and watching on SNY. It is just a part of the job and one that honestly most players fulfill even if they are not in love with doing it on a day by day basis.

Just ask Jeurys Familia.  He stood by his locker after the World Series taking questions about 3 blown saves and afterwards I asked him how tough that was. He said, "Rich you can't just talk after great times--you guys are just doing your jobs."

I believe in giving players every benefit of the doubt but after a secretive workout on Saturday (although some of us watched it)and this latest incident I am sure Met players are not happy. That is why to me he does not need to apologize to anyone but his teammates. In the media, we are used to this at times but I am wondering if there will be a fallout in the Met clubhouse which has such a solid foundation.

This is an incident Harvey can solve immediately. He merely needs to ask himself what would our Captain David Wright do and as #5 has struggled through the early season, he has never ducked a tough question EVER. That's all I'm saying.

 

 

 

 


Wright And Colon Power The Mets To A Win In DC

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The Mets took the field tonight knowing Lucas Duda would be out a minimum of 4-6 weeks but being around this team for the last year or so I can safely tell you these are the moments they always find a way to win.

This group of 25 players relishes these moments when the baseball world thinks the floor the Mets stand on is ready to collapse. On this night Bartolo Colon gave Terry Collins 7 innings of one run ball while David Wright crushed a three run homer which catalyzed a 5 run inning that gave the Mets the lead for good. Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker added home runs as the Mets went back to back in home runs for the 7th time this season in a 7-1 win over the Nats.

But more importantly, the Mets have now won 4 in a row since dropping 2 of 3 to the Nats in CitiField once again proving resilience is this team's middle name. Before the game in the Met clubhouse, you could sense a purpose knowing despite the fact this is still an early season series, these 3 games do have more significance than a typical May game would have.

Game 2 of this series will also have the world watching the Mets as Matt Harvey takes the mound trying to get his confidence back and put the Mets into first place in the NL East with a win. Again, I want to reiterate that this team always rises to the moment and I expect #33 to do just that because this ballpark which had been a den of heartache for the Mets has suddenly become their home away from home as the Mets have won 4 straight games here dating back to last season.

And to add fuel to the fire-the 7 Line will be here so that simply means Nationals Park could become CitiField South in short order. Should be another interesting game in the nation's capital.

 

 

 


The Real Story Behind The Met Lineup

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When I arrived in DC I expected to talk about Mejia's injury or maybe Matt Harvey returning in the finale of this series on Thursday afternoon but instead I was caught in the middle of this insane story about whom constructed the Mets Opening Day lineup. Was it Terry Collins or Sandy Alderson?

Well I decided instead of pontificating about the merits of the insanity I heard on the airwaves I was going to have some conversations with both Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson. Now there's a novel concept--actually talk to the people involved before going on a rant.

Terry generally meets with the media 3 hours before the game and I decided I would talk to him after it rather than in a group setting. My 30+ years as a reporter has given me access to many things and one of them is that good managers get feedback from all sources inside their organization and hearing these stories I found it hard to believe that Collins and Alderson had a "Moneyball" type of conversation we saw in the aforementioned movie.

During the pre-game presser as a joke, Sandy Alderson came in and gave Terry a lineup card which further proved to me the story was a bunch of nonsense. But Terry and I spoke privately and he told me the following, "Rich I had the first conversation about the lineup with Bob Geren back in February while we were bowling together in Port St Lucie and again while we were in Texas finishing up our pre-season schedule. At no point was I EVER ordered to run a certain lineup and that notion is totally untrue."

Speaking to Sandy, I got the same response and please understand this--General Managers constantly talk to managers about lineups and that feedback is important but the final decision rests with the manager. I can tell you this because I was one of few reporters who got along with BOTH Bobby Valentine AND Steve Phillips and Bobby was NEVER ordered to run a certain lineup. And that was two men who lets just say were not best buddies.

What really annoyed me about this was this story got in the Twitter universe and the 2 people involved were never quoted until today. But it speaks to a grander problem in our industry--the game is not enough. To me the Met story today was who will be the closer tonight? Will Jacob deGrom have a great second season?  How excited is the team about Matt Harvey's return? That's baseball and the other stuff is all nonsense. Does this guy like this guy? Do they get along?

When did we all become gossip columnists or National Enquirer editors? Who cares who chose the lineup--it was a group effort and the baseball people (including Terry Collins) thought it was the best way to win. And guess what? The Mets won the game so what is the big deal?

I am sure Joe Torre in all his years with the Yankees asked for other opinions on lineup construction  from Willie Randolph or Don Zimmer for instance and it was never a story. A good baseball manager asks for input because he wants to corner all facets of a certain lineup decision in order to put a winning lineup on the field.

The other thing here is people thought they had the answers to LineupGate when they are never around the team and more importantly never have to face the people they have cast dispersions on in reporting about this.

Enough of LineupGate. The next 2 days are about a Met team that is trying to send a message to themselves they can beat a Nat team that leveled them last year. Granted it is a Nat team that is missing some key players but nonetheless it could be an important start to the 2015 season for the Mets.

That's baseball talk folks and I love talking about a sport I love. I will leave the gossip talk to the people who produce those shows. It honestly does not interest me one bit not when I am about to see last year's Rookie Of The Year battle Jordan Zimmerman and then see Matt Harvey take on Steven Strasberg on successive days.

 


Tom Seaver: Greatest Starting Pitcher In NY Baseball History: You Better Believe It

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Was Tom Seaver the best starting pitcher in NY baseball history? Well, The Hall Of Fame voters certainly think so as he received the highest percentage of Hall Of Fame votes ever. Tom is a very special man and I want young Met fans to understand that so I am posting an old one on one interview I did with The Franchise back in 2008 on the last day Shea Stadium was open to the public. It was a tough day for all Met fans but share the greatness of Tom Seaver with every young Met fan you can.

 

Coutinho Wth Seaver

 


The New York Mets Can Take Over This Town

Nuudzbqeegyh2w4vef9q6025sThere is a plethora of bold talk coming from the New York Mets these days and sports in this town needs it. Aside from the fact that the NY Rangers and NY Islanders seemed to have revived an old rivalry this year, NY Sports has been as unexciting as I can ever remember it being.

Even the New York Yankees who seem to always get the headlines are having trouble appearing in our line of vision unless we are reading a handwritten apology or perhaps retiring every uniform number in their history. And then there are the New York Mets who have been down for so long that twitter followers have developed an art form criticizing them for everything from snowy weather to original sin.

But make no mistake--The New York Mets are the best chance New York has right now of reclaiming the national sports spotlight. That's right I said the Mets. Why? Pitching, Pitching, Pitching combined with the fact that 2 Wild Card teams gain entrance into the MLB's 2015 post-season party makes them a team that could win the hearts of New Yorkers in a time where NY sports fans have plenty of room in their hearts to adopt a team.

In the past weeks, the Mets have not run from the fact they have a chance to win NY. In fact they have boldly spoken that this is their time. Young pitchers like Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Zack Wheeler along with a bullpen that brings out hard throwers by the handful with no fear and a winning attitude have been very clear with their message to Met fans that meaningful games in September are not enough for them--they want games in mid to late October.

Even though I believe pitching is 75% of this game, you have to have offense too and the team did add Michael Cuddyer who along with Lucas Duda, a healthy David Wright, and a Curtis Granderson who is hell bent on being the old Curtis Granderson form the middle of the lineup. Daniel Murphy, Travis d'Arnaud, Wilmer Flores, and Juan Lagares round out a lineup that will never be confused with the '27 Yankees. But I will say this--it is better than it has been in the last 4 years.

You can debate the Mets should have done more or spent more but this team as presently constituted is a playoff caliber team. I can't say that about the team in the Bronx and we all know in this town if Met fans get a small taste of success they will hop on the bandwagon.

A bandwagon that currently only has the Rangers and Islanders on it and a vehicle that always has room for baseball fans. It is a great opportunity for a franchise that has sit in the shadows of the Yankees for quite a few years. If you don't think it could happen, you don't know NY baseball history. Twice in my life (late 60's to early 70's and 84-90) the Mets owned this town and that team that plays in the Bronx played second fiddle.

They had personalities that people gravitated to like Gooden, Seaver, Strawberry, Carter, and Hernandez. Matt Harvey fits that personality mold as he backs down from nobody and takes on everybody much in the way the Mets I just mentioned did. Think about this--those 80's Yankee teams had stars like Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield, Ricky Henderson, and Dave Righetti and nobody put them ahead of the guys who worked at Shea Stadium.

History in baseball repeats itself more than you think--Sandy Alderson's plans may have taken longer than he wanted them to but the time is now and the players inside that Met locker room know it. You can say the Mets need this or need that but recent baseball history has proven you could find offense to get to the playoffs but pitching is precious which was never better illustrated than in MLB's 2014 post-season.

It was also illustrated that division winners and wild card winners can flip report cards in a NY second. Ask the Dodgers about that one. Or more importantly ask the World Champion Giants or the pennant winning Kansas City Royals.


Jose Reyes Rumors: Fact Or Fiction?

Many of you who know me recognize how much I love movies and one of my favorite films is The Paper, which gives us a sneak peek inside a newspaper newsroom. One of the best scenes in the film is when Michael Keaton is trying to get his editor Robert Duvall to print a story with a flimsy source.
 
Duvall says, "Get a quote. You know...They speak...You write...We print." And it occurred to me that is what we need in this Reyes story -- a quote.
 
Too many people are guessing, theorizing, and pontificating as to what is going on. The agents for Reyes and most of the teams interested in him (including the Mets) have not leaked much information and that has people grasping for things. And to generate stories, people are taking leaps of faith. The biggest was of those was on Sunday when it was leaked by one member of the media that a Reyes deal with the Marlins was done except for some minor details. PLEASE STOP THE INSANITY!
For example, some people suggest that Hanley Ramirez has been asked to switch positions -- others contend he has not. Some says it is a slam dunk he will move anywhere -- even center field. The only thing I can tell you is Hanley Ramirez said as recently as Friday,"I am the shortstop right now."
 
Not exactly a ringing endorsement he'd move and it could be argued he may ask for more money down the road if he does indeed move. Here is what I know: Reyes has been offered a contract by the Marlins but I am not sure about the length of the contact or the money terms. He will continue to look at his options and both the Mets and Reyes have agreed to speak once the offers come in. In the interim, the two parties will keep in touch. I'd be very surprised if anything is decided before Thanksgiving because the timeline dictates otherwise.
 
I also have too much respect for Mets fans who read my blogs to mislead them with erroneous information. On this story, I'd rather be second and right than first and wrong. I have been saying for the past 12 months I think Reyes will stay here and although so much info is out there to the contrary, the truth is there is still so much game time left in the Reyes chase. And for Reyes there are many things to consider with money being high on that list but not the only thing to consider. His representatives have always put "whats best for their client" well in front of "setting the market price" and that is very important to consider here. I do know Jose felt hurt by the comments attributed to Fred Wilpon earlier this year and that too plays into the equation here.
 
If Reyes is telling the truth here that the Mets will get a final chance before he agrees to a contract, then the Mets must decide what they are prepared to do. For the record, I've known Reyes since his rookie year and he always been straight and honest with me so I have no reason not to believe him now. Still, there will be much to process on both sides. From a Mets perspective, would they go past a four-year deal and at what dollar level? Is $100 million the magic number for Reyes? Will Jose look at some players like Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford who got the big payday but had unhappy years as something to be ever mindful of? Does he feel the Mets financial situation will preclude them from improving the team down the road with high ticket free agents? Is the Marlin pursuit of free agents just a smokescreen to stimulate ticket sales? Would forcing Hanley to change positions create locker room issues as opposed being in a Mets locker room where everyone now gets along?
 
These are important things for both sides to consider and will take time. Of course in the world of Twitter and other social media sources, waiting is never tolerated. It is like the Wild West. Write anything you want, say anything you want, you can always change your position later. Because of that, you -- the Mets fan have to separate fact from fiction but I will promise you this. You will only get from me what I know -- not what I think will gain attention for me. I learned from early in my reporting life-being wrong about a story could hurt your career much more than breaking a story can help it.
 
And as Robert Duvall said in The Paper, "For crying out loud, get a quote and we will print the story."