Tag Archive for Matt Harvey

Born in the 50s

The following essay was submitted by longtime reader Edward Hoyt. If you’d like to contribute your own takes on Met uni matters, and especially if it’s up to the level of excellence displayed here, feel free to pitch me at mbtn01 (at) yahoo dot-com.

There’s always an interesting lede when a player returns as a coach to a team he made a mark with as a player. If he was a particularly good player, his homecoming is celebrated with some level of excitement. If he had previously passed through without distinction, it can still be a feel-good story with a potential for redemption.

But after that first day’s story, there’s frequently a minor tragedy — visible on a daily basis — when that player gets his uniform, and it underscores that that whatever value a man might represent as a coach, he is still just a coach. The players get the low numbers and coaches get a number in the fifties … or worse. Leftover numbers.

With most coaches, we shrug. This is their lot in life. But with the coach who had previously played for the team, what heart isn’t touched by the cruel marginalization of seeing Mookie Wilson’s 1 become 51, of seeing Bud Harrelson’s 3 displaced by 53, and Howard Johnson’s familiar 20 being twisted and distorted into a 52 (wtf?)? These fleet youthful birds of yesteryear return to us with the anonymous digits of backup linebackers and special teams long snappers — easy-to-release taxi-squad regulars.

So it is with a ray of spring sunshine that we today see a youthful Jeremy Hefner return as pitching coach (nearly an effing half century younger than his predecessor) in the same 53 he brandished as a player. He had the small grace to come to the team under circumstances no more dramatic than the hiring of a coach (a minor league contract in January 2014), got a number that reflected that, and briefly flourished in it. But when his status upgraded itself to rotation mainstay for about a full season split between 2012 and 2013, his number stayed the same. So his return as a coach in such high digits is not a dim a signal that he can tack on a few more paychecks by cashing in on a large legacy, but that he’s here to add some more substance to a small one — the same guy in the same uniform with the same number on a somewhat different road.

When last heard from in a Mets spring training camp back in 2014, Hef was a bit player in one of those stupid Matt Harvey dustups that always seemed perfectly timed for a day when there was no other news. The team was settling into their spring digs and Harv decided to complain that rehabbing players were not dressing next to the active players training and preparing for games. Now, there are certainly sound arguments for and against keeping everybody integrated even if they’re on a different springtime agenda, but rather than make an internal appeal, Harv decided to take his case to the media. And to make it clear this snit wasn’t about him, he decided to drag poor Hefner into the argument. The Mets are marginalizing me and Hef, the two Tommy John rehabilitation cases, Harvey complained.

Hefner, suitably, seemed embarrassed to be dragged into the story, presumably happy to still be receiving a big league salary that was now existentially threatened — his status even more tenuous than the number 53 implied. And when that status exploded alongside a second UCL tear before his rehab was done, ending his career, the story was about whether the fall of Harvey’s rehab partner would serve as an object lesson for him.

It was always about Harvey.

But now, released from the Angels and finding no suitors this offseason, it is The Dark Knight facing the doorway of oblivion, non-roster infielder Max Moroff getting little attention in Harvey’s old 33, and Jeremy Hefner returning to his 53, ready to build on a legacy that is now all his own. While other players returning as coaches have their light dimmed by a number assignment in the 50s, Hef is shining all the brighter.

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Red Menace

So maybe it’s all connected, and P.J. Conlon got No. 60 instead of No. 29 because the Mets were secretly working on a Matt Harvey-for-Devin-Mesorasco deal all along, and had a guy already stitching a 29 jersey with his name on it. Until last night, when he made his Mets debut as a pinch hitter, Mesorasco had worn 39 for the Reds.

Anyway, Mesorasco, like Harvey, is a former top draft pick who’d become somewhat worthless for their clubs but still have contracts to play out. It practically goes without saying that Tomas Nido, whom Mesorasco pinch-hit for last night, will go back to the minor leagues and work on his game.

There more to this as well. Todd Frazier is on the disabled list with a hamstring and it’s widely speculated that Luis Guillorme will be up. That’s significant inasmuch as Guillorme — not Conlon — wore No. 60 in Spring Training. Conlon by the way was swapped out for Corey Oswalt following his appearance.

Here’s my thought, with Guillorme due to arrive and Nido likely in for a long spell of seasoning, let’s put Guillorme in the newly available No. 3, which befits his middle-infielder profile and isn’t far off from his Las Vegas No. 13 jersey.

Finally we’d like to wish chubby Matt Harvey all the luck he has coming with the last-place club and lifeless downtown he deserves in Cincinnati. He might not even get No. 33 there, as Jesse Winker wears it, and he has a promising future.

 

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St. Patrick

Unless you’re talking about winning, there is much to digest since our last update.

I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for Matt Harvey, who was a dingbat ever since pulling up to his first Spring Training in an Escalade and becoming Mike Francesca’s favorite player. Never learned the difference between actually working on his craft and bullshit bravado and undermined his teammates over and over again.

His polar opposite, Jacob deGrom, in the meantime is taking a seven-day break on the disabled list necessitating tonight’s Mets debut for P.J. Conlon. The Ireland-born righty wore No. 80 during Spring Training but the club hasn’t announced a jersey for him yet. I’d like to remind them that 33 is very available.

PJ’s Twitter handle and Las Vegas number was 29. That’s available now, and was last worn by Tommy Milone, another Irish Met.

You don’t need me to tell you this but the Mets look just awful: Michael Conforto is slumping like he did back in 16; and the team is following the pattern of the ’15 group but coming apart on the heels of a big winning streak that included a Travis d’Arnaud injury. It’s pretty plain the Mets desperately need a more capable catcher than Jose Lobaton or Tomas Nido – the latter wearing No. 3 these days.

Oh, and Cespedes is hurt. Go Mets!

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Fun Facts about Tommy Milone

Veteran lefty Tommy Milone, acquired on a waiver claim from Milwaukee over the weekend, is expected to make his Mets debut Wednesday wearing No. 29.

There is a lot of uninteresting things we should mention here.

+ Milone will become the 37th guy to inherit the 29 jersey, one of the most popular numbers in Mets history. His predecessors include fellow portsiders Willard Hunter (1962), Don Rowe (1963), Rob Gardner (1965-66), Mickey Lolich (1976), Tom Gorman (1982-85), Frank Viola (1990-91) and Frank Tanana (1993).

+ Eric Campbell was the most recent occupant. The 29 Mount Rushmore is represented by Steve Trachsel, Ike Davis, Dave Magadan and Viola.

+ Trachsel was never supposed to wear No. 29 yet racked up far more games, wins, innings, and strikeouts than the 18 other pitchers in the family. When acquired as a free agent prior to the 2001 season he was initially issued No. 28 but rejected it because of its association with recently departed pitcher Bobby Jones, who was a Cal State-Fresno product and therefore an enemy of Trachsel’s Cal State-Long Beach heritage.

+ Milone is a USC guy (where he wore 33) and a one-time Trojan teammate of Lucas Duda (No. 9, doncha know).

*

The Matt Harvey Incident, which we briefly discussed below, as expected is turning into a complete clusterfuck, with the latest reports detailing an all-night drinking escapade, security men doing bedchecks, and the disgraced Met righty in his pajamas. It already appears to have caused and ended Adam Wilk’s Mets career, as the Wilkman was demoted back to Vegas yesterday to make room for Milone.

Harvey’s supposed to be back tonight, and scheduled to pitch in Milwaukee on Friday. I know the guy’s stock is down but it would be appropriate if we left him there. Just give us a decent pitching prospect and a reliable third baseman. Deal?

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Got Wilk?

Amazin.

The Mets this morning announced that Matt Harvey has been suspended and so this afternoon’s game will be started by Adam Wilk, up from AAA Las Vegas. Wilk is wearing No. 35.

While fans are speculating the strategically placed dildo was to blame I’m sure there’s more to it than that. For one thing that would indicate there’s a team rule against placing dildoes in lockers. For another it overlooks the pattern of sketchy Harvey nightlife, which I’m sure at some level explains this. I also trust it’ll be sussed out soon.

What a whack team we root for.

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Banged Up

Welcome back to Panic City.

The Mets look old and slow this season, occasionally dangerous, but lacking a rhythm and reliability. All that depth it looked like they had is already being tested, and the Phillies really outplayed us at home this week.

I was less disappointed in last night’s opener vs. Washington, optimistically taking away a sense that Granderson has realized the season has begun finally and getting more confident in Matt Harvey who’s just been great. It would appear that Terry must have been informed to stop bullpenning so damn much, though struggling offenses make for bad bullpens generally.

TJ Rivera and (today’s starter?) Sean Gilmartin are back. I’d like to see Gavin Cecchini and Brandon Nimmo here, but Nimmo also has hammy issues.

From the comments section: Chris points out that Travis d’Arnaud has become the first Met player ever to record at least 50 hits wearing three different uni numbers, becoming a king of the three-number club). Big congrats! And Edward points out that Robert Gsellman’s unsightly No. 65 perhaps isn’t only a spring training leftover but a tribute to the unusual name riding above it: 65ELLMAN. Maybe?

Here’s the entire 3-Number Club:

Player 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
Jeff McKnight 15 5 7 17 18
Kevin Collins 10 19 16 1
Pedro Feliciano 55 39 25 55
Ed Lynch 59 35 34 36
Darrell Sutherland 47 43 45
Cleon Jones 34 12 21
John Stephenson 49 19 12
Jim Hickman 9 27 6
Mike Jorgensen 10 16 22
Hank Webb 42 30 29
Hubie Brooks 62 39 7
Clint Hurdle 33 13 7
Chuck Carr 7 1 27
Kevin Elster 2 21 15
Charlie O’Brien 33 5 22
Ron Darling 44 12 15
Jason Phillips 26 7 23
David Cone 44 17 16
Jae Seo 38 40 26
Roger Craig 38 36 13
Lee Mazzilli 12 16 13
Mike DiFelice 33 6 9
Marlon Anderson 18 23 9
Ramon Martinez 22 26 6
Robinson Cancel 4 40 29
Anderson Hernandez 1 4 11
Omar Quintanilla 6 3 0
Travis d’Arnaud 15 7 18
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Here Come the SHaMs!

That’s the Second-Half Mets, who are going to need to be considerably better than their first-half counterparts if they want to turn this year into something.

I’m not saying they can’t do that, and I’m definitely not saying I’m not rooting for it, but based on what we saw in the first half, I have my doubts.

21I’d have felt better had the team managed to pierce the 10-games-over-.500 barrier but we only approached it several times before settling back into that 80-something win pace. Nobody seems to be acknowledging the biggest loss for the club was big Lucas Duda, who allowed guys like Neil Walker to bat 6th or 7th instead of 4th or 5th. Duda is a mysterious creature. Do we even know how he broke his back? Is his return even a possibility? I’m skeptical of a strong back half without him or someone as terrifying.

20I like Walker enough, but he’s not a middle-of-the-order guy and he hasn’t been much of a force since April. The Mets have Flores, Hererra, Reyes, Reynolds and Cecchini as potential middle infielders. The Mets have no doubt gotten the better of the Niese-Walker swap so far but you wonder, with the Pirates potentially losing an infielder (Kang) and the Mets a starting pitcher, whether they’d shake hands, swap apartments again and pretend it never happened. Niese has been awful, but throw in a prospect, Pittsburgh, and maybe you have a deal. While you’re at it, would you be interested in a reunion with Antonio Bastardo?

Michael Conforto plummeted even more dramatically than Walker but appears to be regaining his stroke in AAA. His return to form would be a considerable boost. Jose Reyes’ return seems to have interrupted Brandon Nimmo’s shot at becoming the leadoff hitter we were looking for anyway. Referring to my recent failed campaign to outfit Travis d’Arnaud in a new number an MBTN reader made a clever suggestion that I might support in helping Conforto to a better second half:

 

I’m all for it, Eric.

33They say it’ll all come down to pitching in the end and I agree. Matt Harvey’s loss, while disappointing, isn’t a setback for the club inasmuch as he wasn’t doing nearly enough to help them win when he was out there. Do they trade for a reliable 5th starter type (Niese again!) or trust things to Sean Gilmartin, and Seth Lugo and Logan Verrett? Maybe they aim a little higher and come away with a Jorge De La Rosa or Rich Hill. Maybe the injury to Snydergaard is worse than expected and they unload. I guess we have to wait and see.

Finally, my friend Conor captured this video from the National broadcast over the weekend! Go us!

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Memorial Day Weakened

32For a team that lost a mighty middle-of-the-order slugger to a broken back, had a once-unstoppable pitcher deliver two of the worst outings of his career, had two guys in the lineup looking for their first major-league hits, has a leadoff hitter struggling to hit above .200, saw starters at shortstop and third base need time off for their own aching backs, had its top bench player and starting catcher on the disabled list, and played the first-place team in their division six times, the Mets didn’t do all that bad this week.

Key to that were terrific starting performances from Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, a bullpen that got-er-done when needed, a bounceback from Bartolo Colon (also dealing with back stiffness) and just enough good luck to make it all sitck, recording an underwhelming sweep of Milwaukee and a series win in Washington this week following a harrowing series loss at home the week before — its fourth straight series loss.

Along the way we were were re-introduced Classic Daniel Murphy, whose iron glove in Wednesday’s game loomed very large when it was all over.

5And so the 2016 Mets head into Memorial Day weekend with a wobbly kind of momentum. Regardless of how underwhelming Los Angeles looked the last time we saw them — how could a team with that kind of financial power wind up relying so heavily on clowns like Kike Hernadez and Justin Turner? — the Mets are going to need to continue to do everything they possibly can right until they unravel what’s ailing Granderson, and d’Arnaud and Duda heal, Conforto and Plawecki’s slump ease, and Harvey stops being such a momentum killer.

What can you say about David Wright? He’s quite obviously not David Wright anymore, his strikeouts, especially looking, are way up, but the guy is winning us some games.

Let’s hope we see Flores return to active duty — and first base — on Friday as the ’86ers return to town.

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Harvey Hi33tory

33Congrats are in order for Matt Harvey, whose fifth strikeout last night helped him surpass John Maine to become the Mets’ all-time leader in strikeouts by guys who wore 33.

Harvey raced to his current career total of 470 whiffs in just 455.1 innings pitched, a pretty impressive feat for a guy I love to hate.

In other races we’re watching this year, keep an eye on Jacob deGrom as he mounts an assault on Aaron Heilman’s all-time mark of 395 strikeouts by a 48: At his rate, that’ll be sometime in June.

34Harvey, deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz in the meantime have quite the battle on their hands for strikeout supremacy, between themselves and their extended numerical families. Matz ‘ Team 32 has the current lead among them at 2,034 career K’s, with Syndergaard’s 34s currently at 1,946; Harvey’s 33s at 1,934 and deGrom’s 48s at 1,909.

It’s possible that all four of these jerseys surpass 16 to move into the top five of all time before the season is over. Not that we need reminding, but these are the good old days.

 

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Without 28

28I’m not going to lie and say Daniel Murphy was ever my favorite Met, but there’s no denying his Met-ness.

Now that it looks like his career with the Mets has come to an end Murphy departs having accounted for more than one-fourth of all games ever played by a guy wearing No. 28 — nearly 40% among position players. His lead over the next most active 28, John Milner, is exactly 162 games and almost 1,000 at-bats.

No Met 28 had any more hits, runs scored, doubles, triples, RBI and stolen bases than Murphy (Milner had more home runs); none were a bigger force in the postseason; no player made you crazier behind brilliant and brilliantly awful plays than Murphy.

52Now that Murphy has officially declined a “qualifying offer,” and it appears as though Yoenis Cespedes is going away too (thanks, and, uh, see ya around, Yo), remaking the interior of the Mets is a priority for the offseason. I don’t think it’s a radical of me to suggest the Mets look to do so with an eye on preventing the kind of up-the-middle sloppiness that doomed them to a deserving humiliation in the World Series (a friend described the Mets’ play against Kansas City as a “dog’s breakfast.”)

My opinion on the best way of going about things could change still but how about we move Wilmer Flores to second base, sign free agent Denard Span, and trade with the Red Sox for shortstop Xander Bogaerts? If and when Dilson Hererra forces his way up, Flores becomes the New Muprhy: Filling in at second, third and (if necessary) short.

Span — at least when healthy — is a nice player who can complement Lagares (he bats left, reaches base exceptionally well, steals bases).

2The Bogaerts part of my plan I admit is a bit of a reach, and might mean parting with Matt Harvey, but 22 year old shortstops like him don’t grow on trees. And it might be more realistic than the Matt-Harvey-for-Mookie-Betts talk out there, as much sense as that makes if only to acquire a Mookie.

Conflict in the making: Both Bogaerts and Span wear No. 2.

Ian Desmond, who could replace Murphy’s offense easily and improve the defense at short, is another possibility if you can’t part with the cost of acquiring a guy by trade.

46I warned you guys about Tyler Clippard, who wound up pretty much like all 46s do, but all the same bullpen upgrades should hardly ever be a priority. I suppose there’s an opportunity to add a few arms to the mix, but there almost always is.

10Congrats to Terry Collins on the new deal, I’m shocked he ever made it this far but he’s grown on me: Complaints about bullpen management come with every guy, but in general I haven’t felt like Terry gives up anything strategically to the other team’s manager, and in the case of the Nationals he beat them badly. As noted above I’d like to see his teams get a little better at the little things, and hope he’ll be held accountable when they don’t.

Your thoughts on the offseason?

 

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