New York Mets: Hisanori Takahashi

Morning Briefing: Harvey Day of Reckoning

August, 27, 2013

Rich Schultz/Getty ImagesMatt Harvey may be lost for the 2014 season with a torn UCL in his right elbow.

FIRST PITCH: The Mets had waited for three years for contracts to expire, and presumably now are poised to reenter free agency in a meaningful way at a time when the young nucleus of starting pitching is ready to contribute.

But the optimism about 2014 being the year the Mets announce their return to contention has been tempered by this sobering news: An MRI on Monday revealed Matt Harvey has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Harvey will wait two to three weeks for inflammation to subside before making a decision, but there is a distinct possibility the ace will require Tommy John surgery that would prompt him to miss most, if not all, of next season as well.

Harvey acknowledged he had been seeking treatment for forearm tightness for a month or two. Sandy Alderson indicated the organization had been satisfied the elbow ligaments were structurally sound. The GM described the injury as somewhat inevitable, suggesting even with innings caps and prudence “there’s no safe harbor” to prevent ligament tears.

Terry Collins had expressed concern throughout the season that Harvey’s full-throttle, upper-90s fastball from wire-to-wire during outings might end up costly. The manager had implored the ace to dial it back at points during games and be content with coaxing groundouts with low-90s fastballs.

So now what? Certainly resources that could have gone to bats during the offseason might need to be diverted to signing another starting pitcher. Or, perhaps, a young pitcher the Mets might have entertained trading for a bat now must be retained because of the potential loss of Harvey for the entire 2014 season.

According to J.B. Kurtz of ESPN Stats & Information, four pitchers since 2010 have landed on the disabled list with some type of UCL tear: Jose Contreras, Danny Duffy, Jorge De La Rosa and Stephen Strasburg. The quickest to return to major league action was Contreras. His absence: 11 months, 3 days.

Harvey's 0.93 WHIP would rank second in major history for an age 24 or younger season in the live-ball era (since 1920), according to ESPN Stats & Information. The only better: Denny McLain, who had a 0.91 WHIP while winning the Cy Young in 1968. Nos. 3, 4 and 5 also won Cy Youngs: Vida Blue (0.95, 1971), Roger Clemens (0.97, 1986) and Dwight Gooden (0.97, 1985). McLain, Blue and Clemens also were named league MVP.

Harvey's 95.8 mph average fastball velocity ranks first in the majors, as does his 89.7 mph slider.

For now, Carlos Torres steps into the rotation, beginning with Harvey’s next turn, in Thursday’s matinee series finale against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Tonight, Jonathon Niese (5-6, 4.03 ERA) opposes right-hander Kyle Kendrick (10-10, 4.51) at 7:10 in Game 2 of the four-game series.

Stayed tuned for more news, too. Sources said the Mets plan to promote Robert Carson, Matt den Dekker and possibly Anthony Recker today. Since only Harvey is known headed to the DL, a trade appears looming.

Tuesday’s news reports:

• Columnist Ian O’Connor at writes about his wife’s reaction to the Harvey news.

Writes columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record:

There are a million questions trailing in his wake, starting with the Mets’ passive response to the lingering forearm tightness Harvey had been experiencing since July. Warrior that he is, Harvey downplayed the discomfort, telling his bosses it was nothing unusual, nothing more than the cost of doing business with nuclear heat.

But given the Mets’ abysmal record of managing injuries, why weren’t they proactive when it was clear Harvey wasn’t improving? There’s nothing normal about forearm tenderness that doesn’t heal. Again, Harvey ignored every warning sign, noting, “There was no shooting pain down my arm and in my hand.” But what would’ve been the downside to slipping that arm into an MRI tube?

Writes columnist David Lennon in Newsday:

We've witnessed the frustration, the failed signings, the collapses. Always the punch line for David Letterman. But Harvey was changing all that. In toting that microphone around Bryant Park for Fallon, the winking Harvey was in on the joke, and the Mets could laugh along with him.

So imagine how Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins felt Monday when Harvey was cruelly snatched away for this season and possibly next year.

Actually, you probably felt that way, too. All along, we've been led to believe that 2014 was the goal, the return to respectability, the start of a new era -- and a big reason for that was Harvey.

Read a Harvey column from Tyler Kepner in the Times and news stories in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Journal, Star-Ledger, Record and

Paul J. Bereswill/Associated PressZack Wheeler suffered a tough-luck loss Monday. The Mets had won eight of his last nine starts.

• After an examination Monday with Dr. James Andrews, Jeremy Hefner is expected to proceed with Tommy John surgery. On a positive note, David Wright is due to head to Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Thursday to begin seriously ramping up baseball activities as his strained right hamstring mends. Bobby Parnell continues to hope to avoid surgery for a herniated disc, but remains unsure of what will transpire. Neck surgery would require four to five months of rehab. Read more on Hefner in Newsday.

Zack Wheeler surrendered a two-out, two-run triple to Cody Asche in the fourth and the Phillies beat the Mets, 2-1, Monday at Citi Field. Philadelphia took over sole possession of third place from the Mets. The Mets have lost five straight. They have scored only six runs during that span.

Wheeler’s line: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. He was pulled at precisely 105 pitches, his team-imposed pitch ceiling, even though opposing pitcher Cliff Lee was due up. Lee limited the Mets to one run in eight innings. Josh Satin’s streak of reaching base ended at 29 straight starts, tied with Steve Henderson (1977) for the franchise rookie record.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record and

• Las Vegas swept a doubleheader at Colorado Springs to move closer to clinching a postseason berth. The 51s have a 3.5-game division lead with eight games remaining. Kirk Nieuwenhuis doubled and scored the tiebreaking run on an error in the 10th in Game 1. Nieuwenhuis then drove in the tiebreaking run with a groundout in the nightcap victory. Recker had a two-run homer against ex-Met Hisanori Takahashi. Noah Syndergaard, who had been 6-0 with a 1.59 ERA through 10 Double-A starts, was roughed up in Binghamton’s 11-0 loss at Bowie on Monday. Syndergaard, pitching for the first time in 10 days because he was skipped a turn to limit his innings, surrendered 11 runs (nine earned), including three homers, in three innings. 2013 first-round pick Dominic Smith went 4-for-5 with a triple, walk, two RBIs and five runs scored as the GCL Mets routed the Cardinals, 18-3. Read the minor league recap here.

• Binghamton left-handed reliever Chase Huchingson has been suspended for 50 games for a second violation involving a drug of abuse, MLB announced.

• Left-hander Darin Gorski has been named Eastern League Pitcher of the Week. Gorski went 1-0 and allowed three earned runs in 14 2/3 innings in two starts with the B-Mets.

From the bloggers: Faith and Fear in Flushing cannot definitively say we should have seen Harvey's injury coming. … John Delcos at Mets Report asks if there is a scapegoat.

BIRTHDAYS: Outfielder Brian McRae turns 46. … Mike Maddux, who pitched for two seasons for the Mets in the mid-’90s, and the brother of Greg Maddux, is 52.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: How does Matt Harvey’s injury affect the complexion of the 2014 season in your view?

Mini-Series preview: Mets at Rockies

June, 27, 2013

Getty Images/USA TODAY SportsJeremy Hefner faces Tyler Chatwood in the makeup of an April postponement.
METS (31-43, fourth place/NL East) vs. COLORADO ROCKIES (39-40, third place/NL West)

Thursday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (2-6, 3.89) vs. RHP Tyler Chatwood (4-1, 2.22), 6:10 p.m. ET

Rockies short hops

• Closer Rafael Betancourt (groin) is expected to return from the disabled list on Friday, the day after the Mets make their cameo appearance at Coors Field.

Set-up man Rex Brothers has handled closing duty in the interim. The southpaw has been 3-for-3 in save conversions and has made 31 consecutive scoreless appearances -- the second-longest streak in franchise history. Opponents are hitting .175 over 29 innings during that span. The Rockies record is 33 straight scoreless appearances by Mike Myers in 2000.

• Right fielder Michael Cuddyer homered twice at Fenway Park on Wednesday, extending his hitting streak to a franchise-record-tying 23 games. Cuddyer is hitting .375 (36-for-96) with five homers and 16 RBIs during the streak, which is the longest in the majors this season. Cuddyer shares the franchise record with Dante Bichette, who had a 23-game hitting streak in 1995.

• Outfielder Dexter Fowler missed Wednesday’s game with right wrist soreness. Tyler Colvin instead started in center field.

Troy Tulowitzki (fractured rib) has started playing catch, but is not expected to return until after the All-Star break. Since Tulowitzki’s last start on June 13, Josh Rutledge and Jonathan Herrera have shared shortstop duties.

Carlos Gonzalez was named NL Player of the Week for the period ending June 16. He has a National League-leading 21 homers, one ahead of Philadelphia’s Domonic Brown. Gonzalez left Sunday’s game with leg cramps, but returned to the lineup Tuesday.

Roy Oswalt, who signed with the Rockies on May 3, has allowed nine runs in 11 innings over two starts in the majors with Colorado.

• Since allowing five runs (four earned) in his season debut on April 24 against Atlanta, Tyler Chatwood has not allowed more than two runs in any of his past seven starts. Chatwood did miss a start earlier this month with pain in the triceps. Chatwood, 23, was obtained from the Los Angeles Angels on Nov. 30, 2011 for Chris Iannetta.

• Ex-Met Hisanori Takahashi was obtained from the Chicago Cubs last weekend for a player to be named, but the Rockies have assigned the 38-year-old left-hander to Triple-A Colorado Springs. He allowed four runs in one inning in his Sky Sox debut.

• Catcher Wilin Rosario has six multi-hit performances in his past 10 games.

Mets morning briefing 3.5.11

March, 5, 2011
At 10:30 a.m. on a back field in Port St. Lucie, Mike Piazza-coached Team Italy faces the Mets' top prospects. 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey, a right-hander from the University of North Carolina, technically throws his first professional pitch in a game. (Harvey signed at the August deadline and had not thrown all summer, so he did not appear in a minor league game last year. He then was working out with the Mets' fall instructional league team, but a death in his family prompted him to return home to Connecticut just before he was poised to throw an inning or two.)

Meanwhile, the Mets continue their regular rotation of facing NL East teams, heading back to Disney to again face the Atlanta Braves. Mike Pelfrey is scheduled to start.

On to Saturday's news reports:

David Lennon in Newsday profiles the longest shot among the four second-base candidates, Justin Turner, who received his first Grapefruit League start at the position Friday. The 26-year-old Turner was claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles last May and proceeded to hit .333 with 11 homers and 35 RBIs in 312 at-bats with Triple-A Buffalo. He even hit for the cycle and went 6-for-6 in the Bisons' finale, but was snubbed for a September call-up when rosters expanded. (He did have eight at-bats in the majors with the Mets earlier in the season.)

Turner has two major obstacles in beating out favorite Brad Emaus, Daniel Murphy and Luis Castillo (who is likely to get released, along with Oliver Perez.) One, Turner has a pair of minor league options remaining. That means he can be sent to Buffalo without being exposed to waivers. So if the original choice falters, Turner then can be summoned -- whereas once Emaus is sent back to Toronto or Castillo is released, it cannot be undone. Turner's second problem: His primary advocate was Wayne Krivsky, who originally drafted him while GM of the Reds, acquired him while a special assistant with Baltimore, and then was influential in the Mets making the waiver claim last year. Krivsky, who was a special assistant to Omar Minaya, remains with the organization because he was already signed through 2011. But Krivsky is now scouting for the organization and is not part of the inner circle.

Turner, by the way, is best known for his college days while at Cal State Fullerton, when he was beaned by a pitch. As Lennon writes:

Turner was nailed in the face during a semifinal against Stanford -- former Met Chris Carter was on that Stanford team -- and gained instant fame. Not the kind anyone would want, of course. Turner suffered a badly bruised face and a chipped tooth, but he returned to the dugout for the 10th inning of that game. The worst of it was a fractured ankle, the result of his attempt to twist out of the way. Turner continues to be recognized from that incident, mostly because of his red hair. Shortly afterward, Turner dyed it black to "get a breather" from the attention -- especially in the Fullerton area -- but there's no escaping the legacy of that pitch.

Jason Bay acknowledges his timing is off at the plate right now, suggesting he's behind fastballs because it's spring training and he's tinkering with his stance. His aim is to reduce extra movements and make his stance more closed -- the front foot closer to the plate, rather than farther away. "The only problem is I'm used to having a lot more movement," Bay tells the Post's Mike Puma. "Sometimes I feel like I need to be doing more, when in essence I need to be doing less. I've hit a couple of line drives over the second baseman's head, which I don't do a lot. That tells me my bat path is good, but I'm still off on spring-training timing. Some of those fastballs are beating me a little bit. ... I'm catching up to game speed -- 88 [mph] looks like 98 the first week."

Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger chronicles Chris Young's second Grapefruit League outing, during which the 6-foot-10 right-hander allowed an unearned run in three innings. Young was displeased with his early control, but he has been thrilled with the life on his fastball and no signs of past shoulder woes. “I felt strong," Young said. "The ball had life on it. It’s something to build on.” ... More on Young's outing in the Post, Times and Record. ... McCullough also weighed in on Turner and the second-base race.

Peter Botte in the Daily News reminds readers about the hockey ties of Young's wife's family:

His wife Elizabeth's great-grandfather was hockey pioneer and Hall of Famer Lester Patrick -- the legendary Rangers coach and the GM of their 1940 Stanley Cup championship team. Her grandfather, Muzz, played, coached and served as GM of the Rangers, while her father Dick Patrick is a part-owner and team president of the Capitals. Muzz's brother Lynn, his uncle Frank and his nephew Craig are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

• By the way, forgive Young if his attention is distracted Saturday. Young's alma mater, Princeton, can clinch the Ivy League basketball title tonight and an NCAA Tournament berth with a win at second-place Harvard, which is unbeaten at home and trying to stay alive in pursuit of its first Ancient Eight title in school history. Young hopes to attend an NCAA Regional in Tampa assuming Princeton makes it and gets assigned to that site.

Hisanori Takahashi isn't sure if the Mets' financial woes affected their interest in re-signing him, he tells Tyler Kepner of The New York Times. The Mets bid $3 million with a team option for 2012 before being forced to cut loose Takahashi because his original deal when he came over from Japan granted him the right to free agency after one year rather than the standard six years. Takahashi signed a two-year, $8 million deal with the Angels. Takahashi, who has dealt with back discomfort in camp, is ticketed for the bullpen unless ex-Mets phenom Scott Kazmir flames out in the rotation.

• Record columnist Bob Klapisch profiles Terry Collins, comparing the combustible match to putting high-strung Tom Coughlin with a bad football team but also writing:

There’s a surprising calm this time around, maybe because he’s already been to the inferno and back. “Look, I took [managing] too seriously, I tried too hard to prove I could do it,” Collins said. “I reflect back on my time [in Houston and Anaheim] and realized, you know what, I didn’t enjoy it. That’s going to change, I promise you." Finally, he understands why [Joe] Torre was able to drive George Steinbrenner crazy all those years, why the idea of getting fired never frightened him. It’s because Torre had already been whacked by the Mets, Braves and Cardinals, which granted him a certain peace about his ultimate doom in the Bronx.

• Former Gov. Mario Cuomo, who is trying to mediate a settlement between Irving Picard and Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz, tells Newsday: "Both sides agree, 'Yes we are willing to make every effort to make settlement here.' ... What the judge was hoping was that there could be a settlement because it is better than litigation that is long and maybe even ugly. It is less expensive to those paying [lawyers'] bills."

Douglas Martin in The New York Times chronicles the life of ex-Met Greg Goossen, who died last weekend at 65. Writes Martin:

As a Met, he caught Nolan Ryan’s first big league game in 1966 and broke up a perfect game by Larry Jaster of the Cardinals with a two-out eighth-inning single in 1968. ... It was Casey Stengel who made Goossen a baseball trivia legend with one remark in 1966. Stengel, having retired as the Mets manager the previous season, was visiting the Mets’ training camp when he pointed at Goossen and was reported to have said, “Goossen is only 20, and in 10 years he has a chance to be 30.”

• The Daily News continues to suggest the Securities and Exchange Commission's investigation of Bernard Madoff may have been tainted, and reasons the Wilpons ought to be vindicated because of its apparent conflict of interest.

BIRTHDAYS: Mike Hessman, who appeared in 32 games for the Mets last season, turns 33. He was the active leader among minor leaguers in homers with 329 until deciding to play in Japan this season. ... Left-hander Les Rohr, the second overall pick in the 1965 draft, was born on this date in 1946. He made six appearances for the Mets from 1967 to 1969. ... Outfielder Larry Elliot was born in 1938. He hit .236 in two seasons with the Mets, in 1964 and '66.

Report: Takahashi to Angels

December, 2, 2010
Left-hander Hisanori Takahashi, who had an out in his contract with the Mets that forced the club to release him after the season, is on the verge of signing with the Los Angeles Angels, according to the New York Times. Takahashi reportedly is headed to California for a physical.

The loss of Takahashi, who was not permitted to re-sign with the Mets until May 15 after getting cut loose, as well as Pedro Feliciano declining arbitration leaves the Mets with little proven left-handed relief help currently under control. The top southpaw relievers at the moment are Oliver Perez, Pat Misch, Mike O'Connor and Eric Niesen.

Perez, by the way, has tossed 10 straight scoreless innings in Mexico. And it sounds increasingly likely the organization will bring him to spring training to take a look rather than simply eat his $12 million contract for 2011 this offseason.

Phils interested in Takahashi

November, 14, 2010
The Philadelphia Phillies are interested in pursuing left-hander Hisanori Takahashi, ESPN's Jayson Stark reported.

Takahashi and the Mets failed to reach an agreement by the Nov. 5 extended negotiating deadline and the Mets were contractually required to make the versatile Japanese southpaw a free agent. The Mets are not permitted to re-sign Takahashi and use him in the majors before May 15, ensuring he will sign elsewhere.

A team official indicated Takahashi was looking for a three-year deal that paid $4 million to $5 million a season.

Wright Part II: On Taka, Samuels, Reyes

November, 13, 2010
David Wright, while at Chelsea Piers on Saturday, also spoke about the departure of Hisanori Takahashi and whether he can envision Jose Reyes playing in another uniform. Here's what Wright had to say on those and other topics:

On the loss of Takahashi: “Although we didn’t have as much success as we would have liked to as a team, there were some bright spots. Taka was one of those bright spots. He did whatever this team asked him to do, whether it was be a long man, be a setup man, be a closer. I think he will be missed. At the same time, the team and Sandy, they have to do what they think is best for this team. If the price wasn’t right, then the price wasn’t right. That’s some of the tough decisions you have to make in this game. Unfortunately, they couldn’t come up with something. Just from hearing what Sandy is talking about, and talking with him the short time I have, it seems like he’s got a very solid plan in place. I really like the direction in the short period of time that it sounds like the team is going in. I’m excited to be a part of that. It’s unfortunate that things sometimes don’t work out the way you or the fans would like them to, but it is what it is and we have to move on. From what I read, he wants to be a starter. I think he can be valuable to a team in a number of different ways. But if we didn’t see him as a starter or his asking price was a little too high, those are the tough decisions. That’s why they get paid the big bucks. Sometimes you have to make tough calls like that. But I think he will go on and be successful because he locates his pitches well and throws a number of different pitches for strikes. He’s not afraid, which I think is very important. He goes right after hitters, even though he doesn’t have tremendously overpowering stuff."

On the change in leadership with the Mets. “It’s unfortunate that kind of the people that the finger were pointed at and were ultimately let go were good people -- and were people that I think would acknowledge there were mistakes and they probably could have done some things better. It’s unfortunate when you see bad things happen to good people, and I think that’s kind of what happened. But I think they would probably understand that this is New York, and you’re expected to win, and when you don’t, sometimes you bear the brunt of that and probably get a lot of fingers pointed at you unfairly. There’s players. We feel responsible. And moving forward I think you almost had to make a change based on what we did the last few years. Like I said, it’s unfortunate that it happened to good people, and you wish them the best.”

On Charlie Samuels’ legal woes: “Unfortunately, that’s his personal matter. I’d prefer to stay out of it and not comment on it. It’s sad, and I wish him the very best. That’s something that’s his personal matter and I’d like to kind of stay out of it.”

What did you make of Ryan Zimmerman as the NL Silver Slugger winner at third base, and Scott Rolen winning the Gold Glove? “It is what it is. I don’t sit there and try to play for individual awards. I guess baseball is one of those things where the numbers speak for themselves -- good and bad, I guess. Both of those guys are very deserving. You try to go out there and have good seasons. If you have a bunch of individuals that have good seasons, normally the team has good seasons. And that’s kind of what the goal is.”

On whether he can imagine Jose Reyes not being with the Mets, since he’s only signed through 2011: “It’s special coming up with an organization, and being through the good and the bad. I think Jose makes me a better player. I think Jose puts our team at a different level. You can tell a difference when he’s in the lineup and not in the lineup. It makes our job a whole heck of a lot easier when he’s doing the things that he can do, one of those run producers in the middle of the lineup. I hope not [that Reyes’ future is elsewhere]. He adds a different dynamic to the team when he’s healthy and he’s out there playing.”

On 2011 preparations: “Pretty soon baseball activities will start where I get back in the cage and I start throwing and taking groundballs and things like that. As of right now, it’s just trying to build that base and that foundation for 162 games. I feel like I’m still relatively young, but each year it’s more and more of a grind to try to stay healthy and stay physically able to go out there and to try to play 162 games. Each year you get a year older and you’ve got to work a little bit harder.”

Takahashi outta here

November, 5, 2010
Hisanori Takahashi will not be returning to the Mets in 2011. The sides were unable to complete an agreement by Friday's extended deadline, and Takahashi will be released per a stipulation in his contract. Because MLB rules now prohibit Takahashi from re-signing with the Mets and pitching in the majors before May 15, the release all but ensures Takahashi will pitch elsewhere next season.

Read the full story, including reaction from both sides, here.

Deadline day for Takahashi, Mets

November, 5, 2010

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
If Hisanori Takahashi doesn't sign by midnight, he is headed elsewhere in 2011.

The Mets face a midnight deadline to sign Hisanori Takahashi. Otherwise, the Mets contractually must release the Japanese left-hander. And because baseball rules would prohibit the Mets from re-signing Takahashi and using him in the majors before May 15 if he is released, if Takahashi does not re-up today, he is sure to sign elsewhere.

The Mets reportedly have taken a hard line with Takahashi’s agent, Arn Tellem. The Times reports the Mets are balking at guaranteeing a second year.

The 35-year-old Takahashi went 10-6 with a 3.61 ERA and eight saves in 53 appearances (12 starts) in his first season in the majors after spending 10 years with the Yomiuri Giants.

Given the uncertainty about when Johan Santana will be able to contribute to the rotation next season, Takahashi’s versatility could be extremely valuable. Also, the Mets risk losing their other primary left-handed reliever, workhorse Pedro Feliciano, as a free agent.

Still, Takahashi likely should be viewed more as a reliever with fill-in starting ability than a potential full-year member of the rotation.

In his 12 starts, the first time a batter faced Takahashi in a game, the opponent hit .229. In the second plate appearance, the average rose to .293. In the third plate appearance and beyond, the average was .381.

“Talk about flexibility, and here's a guy that can -- maybe not as effectively -- but can start, can relieve,” GM Sandy Alderson said at his introductory press conference last Friday. “There’s a lot of value in that. We’re going to look at it hard. On the other hand, we have to make a judgment about what we think he’s worth.”

Deadline extension for Takahashi in works

October, 28, 2010
Arn Tellem, the new agent for Hisanori Takahashi, indicated Thursday that the looming deadline the Mets face for completing negotiations with the Japanese left-hander may be extended.

When Takahashi signed in March, the Mets agreed to make him a free agent on Oct. 31 if an extension had not been worked out. However, if Takahashi were to be cut loose on Sunday per that agreement, he could not re-sign and appear in the majors for the Mets until May 15 -- essentially meaning he would have to sign elsewhere.

"We are in discussions with the Mets to extend the negotiating deadline with them," Tellem told via e-mail.

Takahashi switched agents from New York-based Peter and Ed Greenberg this week.

The inclination to extend the negotiating deadline with the Mets is a positive development in the likelihood Takahashi remains with the club.

A Mets insider said of the agent switch: "We can offer what we are going to offer, so not sure it matters much. Since he's switching to a guy we work well with, it should not matter and simply be a matter of years and dollars."

UPDATE: The sides reportedly have completed the extension of the deadline, giving the Mets breathing room to complete a deal.

Takahashi switches agents

October, 27, 2010

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Hisanori Takahashi could be leaving the Mets as a free agent.

With four days until the Sunday deadline when Hisanori Takahashi is due to become a free agent, the left-hander has switched agents, an indication he may be ready to shop his services. Takahashi has signed up with Arn Tellem, who has represented several Japanese players, including Hideki Matsui.

Takahashi formerly was represented by New York-based Peter and Ed Greenberg, who have a strong working relationship with the Mets and who also represent Johan Santana and Jose Reyes.

When Takahashi signed a minor-league deal with the Mets in February, the organization agreed to make him a free agent on Oct. 31 if he was unsigned to an extension. If Takahashi is cut loose on Sunday per that obligation, he would be prohibited from re-signing with the Mets and appearing in the majors before May 15.

So, in essence, assuming Takahashi is cut loose, he is highly unlikely to return. Takahashi's versatility as a reliever and starter could be particularly valuable. The Mets already could lose the other left-hander in the bullpen, Pedro Feliciano, as a free agent.

Newsday tweeted about the agent switch Wednesday.

Money matters, Taka on clock, AFL

October, 24, 2010
Josh Byrnes still has five years remaining on his contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. And that means he likely would cost the Mets significantly less than the other GM finalist, Sandy Alderson.

The Mets could not pay Byrnes $1 annually for five years, but they would only be responsible for a "reasonable" payment. That's because every dollar Byrnes gets from the Mets is deducted from the amount Byrnes would receive from his Diamondbacks contract -- so Byrnes gets the same amount either way.

Needless to say, the Diamondbacks are rooting for Byrnes to get the job, too. That's because whatever the Mets pay him is less out of their pockets.

There is no indication that financial consideration is a dominant factor. But if two qualified candidates end up being neck-and-neck, perhaps potentiially saving $1 million or more a year on GM and using that for player procurement could come into play.

ON THE CLOCK: Bidding on other teams' free agents doesn't start until five days after the World Series under the revised guidelines (down from 15 days afterward), but the Mets face a hard deadline looming with left-hander Hisanori Takahashi.

When the Mets signed Takahashi to a minor-league deal in February, they guaranteed to make him a free agent after Oct. 31 if he was not signed to a longer-term deal by then. And if the Mets do cut Takahashi loose next Sunday per that obligation, they would not be able to re-sign him to a major-league contract and use him in the big leagues until May 15, as The New York Times noted this morning.

So, essentially, if Takahashi is not re-signed by the Mets by next Sunday, he's going elsewhere.

Even if Takahashi had more success as a reliever, he could be particularly valuable to the 2011 Mets because of his versatility given the uncertainty over when Johan Santana might be fully recovered from shoulder surgery. Also, the Mets' other primary left-hander in the bullpen, workhorse Pedro Feliciano, is a pending free agent.

UNDER CONTROL: Right-hander Brad Holt, the 33rd overall pick in the 2008 draft out of UNC Wilmington, finally appears to be putting things together in the Arizona Fall League. Holt, who turned 24 on Oct. 13, struggled with control during the regular season, prompting a demotion from Double-A Binghamton to Class A St. Lucie. His combined numbers between the levels: 3-14 with an 8.34 ERA, 111 hits and 79 walks in 95 innings.

In three AFL starts, Holt has yet to allow an earned run over nine innings. His line: 2-0, one run (unearned), four hits, four walks, nine strikeouts.

Also in the AFL, center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis returned Saturday. He struck out in both at-bats after entering in the fourth inning. Nieuwenhuis had been out four days because of a wrist injury suffered during a slide.

SECOND COMING: Daniel Murphy, who had worked at second base in Fort Myers, Fla., during the instructional league, has moved on to winter ball with Aguilas in the Dominican Republic. Murphy has started Aguilas' first two games at second base. He is hitless so far in eight at-bats.

While it's difficult to forecast Murphy's 2011 role before a GM and manager are named and without viewing the spring-training competition, some combination of Murphy and Ruben Tejada could be viable at second base. That would serve as a lefty-righty/offensive-defensive complement.

At the least, by getting proficient at second base, Murphy would be a more valuable lefty pinch-hit bat for the bench, since he conceivably could fill in at three infield positions and left field.

Murphy missed the entire 2010 season at the major league level because of a pair of MCL injuries to his right knee.

BLANC SLATE: Henry Blanco has started three of the past four games for Margarita in Venezuela. Blanco will be a free agent, although it's conceivable he returns to the Mets. If Josh Thole is going to be the No. 1 catcher, the Mets can use a righty-hitting backup, so Blanco fits the bill. And Blanco was popular with the pitching staff. One reason for caution: Blanco does turn 40 next season.

2010's significant developMets (Part II)

October, 14, 2010

AP Photo
There were moments of both jubilation and despair for the 2010 Mets pitching staff.

As we mentioned in our last piece, The Year of the Pitcher took on special meaning for the Mets this season, as with their offense struggling, the team’s outcome often hung on the staff that took the mound daily with the pressure of knowing they’d need to perform well to give the team a reasonable chance to win.

Some thrived and starred in the spotlight, while others struggled and became symbols of the frustration Mets fans felt with the failures that have befallen this team. Here’s a closer look at what developed on the field for this year’s moundsmen.

If only every game were a home game

The Mets put up some impressive numbers at Citi Field in 2010, tying a club mark previously set in 1988 with 16 shutouts. They cut their home runs allowed at home from 81 in 2009 to 47 in 2010 (the fewest they've yielded since '88), and their 3.07 ERA was the best they've had at home since 1990.

But the Mets road struggles were largely due to the inability of the pitching staff to replicate that performance in other ballparks. They had the third-biggest split in baseball between their home and road ERA (home: 3.07, road 4.35), and the fourth-largest difference in batting average. Their 88 road home runs allowed ranked third-most in the National League.

Late-inning performance on the road was a huge issue, particularly for the Mets bullpen. Opponents had a .222 batting average and .636 OPS in the seventh inning or later at Citi Field, and a split of .270/.760 elsewhere (both significantly worse than the big league average). That led to a lot of heartbreaking defeats. The Mets 20 one-run losses on the road tied for most in the majors.

The way it most often for the Mets on the road was like this –- win one, lose two. They went 1-2 overall in eight different opposing ballparks this season. Pitching was largely to blame. Their combined ERA in those venues was 5.14.

Two out of three ain’t bad in some cases, but in this one, it was part of what made the Mets mediocre.

Mike Pelfrey pitched well, but ...

The pitcher who benefited most from Citi Field was Mike Pelfrey, who finished with a 2.83 ERA there, a 4.95 ERA elsewhere.

That's nothing new. Pelfrey has pitched at the level of a No. 2 starter at home over the last three seasons, but his road performance has been unimpressive

This was the third straight season in which Pelfrey posted a road ERA of 4.00 or worse and an opponents batting average of .300 or higher. No other Mets pitcher who threw at least 80 innings has more than one such season of that combination.

Some may point to Pelfrey's road BABIP (batting average on balls in play), a .342 and say that Pelfrey must have been unlucky. I don't think so.

His road BABIP the last three seasons has been .344, .326, and .342. That tells me that we see in these games is what Pelfrey is. He may be a little better than someone with a 4.95 road ERA (his road xFIP, an ERA equivalent based on walks, strikeouts, and fly ball rate, was almost the same as his home xFIP, 4.48), but not much. He’s not necessarily ready to be a No. 1 starter just yet.

A second ace

Save for a few innings, Johan Santana performed according to expectations this season. R.A. Dickey may have exceeded them as much as any pitcher in Mets history.

The performance of Santana and Dickey marked only the fifth time in Mets history that they had a pair of pitchers qualify for the ERA title, whose ERA, adjusted for primary ballpark pitched in (also known as ERA+) was 30 percent better than the league average, the first since the 2000 NL champs (Mike Hampton and Al Leiter).

Dickey finally found the right touch on his knuckleball, but part of his success this season was his ability to throw off hitters timing by mixing in the occasional 84-mile-per-hour fastball.

Yes, opponents hit .350 against Dickey’s heat, according to our Inside Edge video data, but that’s a little misleading. According to Fangraphs, Dickey’s fastball had a value of 5.9 runs better than the major league average.

That tells us that when the pitch wasn’t hit, the value it had of putting Dickey in a better position to get outs outweighed the damage done by any hits he may have allowed.

Jonathon Niese has a secret weapon

Jonathon Niese did something that no Met has ever done. He's the first pitcher in Mets history to qualify for the ERA title (usually a minimum of 162 innings) and not allow a stolen base.
Johan Santana came pretty close in 2009, allowing only one steal, but Niese bettered that.

Four baserunners attempted a steal on Niese in 2010 -- Austin Jackson, Nyjer Morgan, Joey Votto, and Rusty Ryal. None succeeded.

The last pitcher to throw more innings than Niese's 173 2/3 and not allow a stolen base was Jarrod Washburn for the 2005 Angels.

That’s something in which Niese can take pride. There’s also something for him to work on, most notably maintaining his performance over an entire season.

Those who were concerned with Niese’s fatigue level may point to this set of stats. Prior to the All-Star Break, when Niese tried to finish a hitter with a two-strike fastball, opponents had a .276 on-base percentage and .619 OPS, numbers not far off from the major league average.

But after the All-Star Break, his two-strike fastballs lacked the same zip. Opponents posted a .372 on-base percentage and an .825 OPS.

It was a year of quirks

My Stats and Info colleague Doug Kern got all excited watching Oliver Perez gak up the regular season finale.

Perez's loss made him 0-5, as Kern noted the second-worst winless record by a Met, trailing only John Franco's 0-8 in 1998.

The Mets actually had a pretty good "loser group" in 2010. Three pitchers -- Perez, Jenrry Mejia and Pat Misch all went 0-4 or worse. It's the first time the Mets ever had multiple pitchers go 0-4 or worse in the same season and the sixth time a team has had three such pitchers in major league history.

And if you want any more proof that Perez is in the midst of one of the worst two-year runs in major league history, he became the third pitcher ever to post consecutive seasons with an ERA of 6.80 or worse and a WHIP of 1.9 or worse, the first since the immortal Jim Walkup for the 1938-39 St. Louis Browns.

Also of note from the quirky stat pile:

• The last word on the whole 12 grand slams allowed debacle ... The Mets nine grand slams allowed ON THE ROAD are the second-worst by a team over the last 55 years, trailing the 2006 Orioles, who had 11.

• Middle reliever Elmer Dessens managed a 2.30 ERA despite striking out only 3.06 batters per nine innings. That's VERY hard to do. The three other pitchers who averaged less than 3.5 K per 9 in 2010 (Eddie Bonine, Justin Berg, and Jesse Litsch) had a combined ERA of 5.12.

Only two other pitchers in Mets history have posted ERA's as low as Dessens, while striking out fewer batters per nine than him -- Ken Sanders in 1975 and the oft-booed Doug Sisk in 1983.

• Lastly, Hisanori Takahashi's season was full of statistical oddities, in a good way.

He's the first Mets pitcher to have at least eight saves and 10 starts since Anthony Young (he of the 27-game losing streak) in 1992. But so we can end this piece on a good note, let's invoke a more positive season. Takahashi also became the first Met with at least 10 wins and eight saves since Roger McDowell in 1986.

Mets' potential free agents wait in limbo

September, 22, 2010

US Presswire/Icon SMI/Getty Images
Although the guaranteed portion of Jose Reyes' contract is set to expire, there have been no extension talks with the shortstop, or pending free agents Hisanori Takahashi (center) and Pedro Feliciano (right).

The Mets have shelved talks with their potential free agents -- or, more precisely, not had any discussions at all -- until the front-office composition is resolved.

In the case of Jose Reyes, that means the Mets eventually are expected to exercise Reyes’ $11 million team option for 2011.

That would not preclude subsequent discussions on an extension that could supersede that option taking effect.

In fact, although backloading contracts can have its own perils, the Mets could ultimately attempt to sign Reyes to a multi-year deal with a significantly lower salary next season in order to gain some payroll flexibility. Reyes would then be rewarded with higher numbers in the later years of the deal.

If Reyes is back just under the $11 million option terms, and factoring in the likely arbitration awards for Mike Pelfrey (who will get a raise from $500,000), Angel Pagan (raise from $1.45 million) and R.A. Dickey ($600,000), the Mets’ payroll is approaching $130 million before any winter maneuvers are made.

Both primary left-handers in the Mets’ bullpen -- Pedro Feliciano and Hisanori Takahashi -- are due to be free agents.

Under normal circumstances, the 35-year-old Takahashi, who pitched 10 seasons for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, would be considered a rookie by Major League Baseball standards and be under the Mets’ control for another five seasons.

However, Takahashi’s agents -- who also represent Johan Santana and Reyes -- placed into the southpaw’s original minor league deal a stipulation that Takahashi had the right to be a free agent after this season.

The Mets have exclusive negotiating rights through October. Takahashi has professed his affection for New York, but he also wants to start. Conceivably, a fair monetary offer, plus a pledge to allow him to compete for a starting role in spring training, would be enough to retain Takahashi.

That type of promise might not be too dangerous anyway.

After all, if the Mets don’t throw around big dollars this winter, which is the expectation, they should have competition for the fifth starter’s spot behind Santana, Pelfrey, Jon Niese and Dickey. That battle could feature Jenrry Mejia, Dillon Gee and Takahashi as well as whichever low-priced veteran candidates the Mets bring in on nonguaranteed deals. And if Santana isn’t ready for April, which is a distinct possibility, Takahashi’s ability to serve multiple roles -- everything from starting to closing -- could be particularly valuable.

Of course, there’s an open question about Takahashi’s capability to be a major league starter. Overall, Takahashi was 4-4 with a 5.01 ERA in 12 starts this season. The opponent batting average the first time a hitter faced Takahashi in those dozen starts was .229. The second plate appearance, the average rose to .293. It was .381 in the third encounter and beyond in Takahashi’s starts.

Feliciano, due to be a first-time free agent after making $2.9 million this season, may be the most tricky call. The durable southpaw set franchise records for relief appearances in 2008 and 2009, with 86 and then 88. That workload concerned the Mets enough that they decided to wait until this upcoming offseason to talk extension with Feliciano. After all, they reasoned, why lock up Feliciano early if he could break down because of all the appearances he has logged?

The second part of the reasoning was that, as a New York team, the Mets would not be in danger of losing Feliciano as a free agent because they would have the most dollars to spend if it’s something they ultimately wanted. Now, though, the Mets have serious payroll issues and it may not be that simple.

Could the 34-year-old Feliciano get a two-year deal with a vesting option elsewhere that’s worth more than $3 million annually? It’s entirely possible.

Would the Mets be willing to go there? It’s debatable, and the answer likely needs to wait for a GM to be identified.

Feliciano made his 85th appearance Tuesday and is threatening to set a franchise record for the third straight year. His three-year appearance total (259) blows away the field. The second-most relief appearances in the majors since 2008 is Carlos Marmol with 232, followed by Matt Guerrier with 224, Aaron Heilman with 214 and Francisco Cordero with 210.

If Feliciano has five appearances over the Mets’ final 11 games, he will become only the fifth pitcher in major league history to reach the 90-relief-appearance plateau, joining Salomon Torres (2006), Kent Tekulve (1978, ’79, ’87), Mike Marshall (1973, ’74) and Wayne Granger (1969).

One complication for Feliciano is that he could end up a Type A free agent -- meaning, assuming the Mets offered arbitration, a team signing Feliciano might be required to forfeit a first-round pick to the Mets.

It’s not that simple, though. The Mets offering arbitration to Feliciano means he could come back and stick them with an enormous arbitration award approaching $4 million -- a dicey gamble in order to pick up a draft pick. So the organization might not be wise to offer Feliciano arbitration if he’s ultimately headed elsewhere.

From Feliciano’s perspective, having a Type A label and the Mets offering him arbitration could make it difficult to get interest elsewhere, as reliever Juan Cruz found out two offseasons ago.

Meanwhile, in a division with Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in Philadelphia and now Jason Heyward joining Brian McCann in Atlanta, how would the Mets replace Feliciano? They have struggled for years to identify a second left-hander to pair with him in the bullpen, which has necessitated the heavy workload.

Bottom line: Is the current inaction hurting the Mets? Arguably so, although it’s clearly better to first have a front office in place than to have one regime saddle another with more contracts. But, for point of reference, Reyes’ last contract -- the four-year, $23.25 million deal that is set to run out with the exception of the option -- was completed in August 2006.

In Feliciano’s case, his agent will be free to discuss interest with other teams immediately after the World Series. Feliciano could start accepting actual bids 15 days beyond that.

“I think we’re going to wait until the World Series and see what happens,” Feliciano said. “I want to see what’s going to happen in the free agency.”

Will Takahashi bolt Mets?

September, 7, 2010
Hisanori Takahashi envisioned himself as a starting pitcher in the major leagues, as he had done for most of his 10-year career with the Yomiuri Giants.

So what will happen after this season, when Takahashi can become a free agent and potentially has an opportunity to find an organization that will let him pitch in his preferred role?

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Hisanori Takahashi, pointing to catcher Henry Blanco after producing his fourth save Tuesday, has the right to be a free agent after the season.

“Honestly, right now, I don’t have much to say about my future plans,” Takahashi said through an interpreter after retiring Ivan Rodriguez on a game-ending double play and notching his fourth save as the Mets beat the Nationals, 4-1, on Tuesday night.

Even though the 35-year-old Takahashi signed a minor league deal with the Mets on the eve of spring training, the organization allowed a stipulation for him to be a free agent after an exclusive October negotiating window with the Mets. Normally, a player would need to have six years of major league service time before becoming a free agent.

Takahashi has made 12 starts for the Mets this season, going 4-4 with a 5.01 ERA. Opposing batters hit .229 against him the first time they faced him in a game as a starting pitcher. The average jumped to .293 in the second plate appearance in a game and .381 in the third plate appearance and beyond, lending to the suggestion that Takahashi is better suited for relief in the majors.

Conceivably, the Mets could offer Takahashi an opportunity to be in a fifth starter’s competition with Jenrry Mejia, Dillon Gee and whatever low-cost veteran options are brought in on unguaranteed deals for spring training -- with a pledge that no high-priced starter would be signed.

The Mets do have a working relationship with Takahashi’s agents, New York-based Peter and Ed Greenberg, who also represent Johan Santana and Jose Reyes.

Pedro Feliciano, the other top left-hander in the Mets bullpen, also can be a free agent after this season.

Asked how he might balance having a starting opportunity elsewhere with pitching out of the bullpen for the Mets in 2011, Takahashi said: “I don’t know yet.”

He did add that New York is a plus.

“Eight months here in the United States, I’ll spend most of the time in New York,” he said. “I kind of like New York.”

Takahashi added that he does want to pitch the remainder of his career in Major League Baseball.

“I hope I can finish my career in the United States,” Takahashi said.

Closer call?

August, 28, 2010
The closer call on Friday night? Originally it went to Bobby Parnell, not Hisanori Takahashi -- although Takahashi ultimately earned his second major league save anyway in the Mets’ 2-1 win against the Houston Astros.

With three straight right-handers due up to open the ninth inning, Jerry Manuel called upon Parnell to protect a 2-0 lead for Mike Pelfrey. Parnell opened the frame by striking out Hunter Pence. He then allowed consecutive singles to Carlos Lee and Chris Johnson to place runners at the corners.

With lefty-hitting Brett Wallace due up, Manuel then went to Takahashi. The Astros countered by sending right-handed pinch hitter Jason Michaels to the plate. Michaels singled off Takahashi to pull the Astros within a run.

The comeback ended there, though. Angel Sanchez, after nearly walking, popped out to shortstop. Tommy Manzella then flied out to left field.

Parnell had seven straight scoreless outings before the run scored Friday. The run was unearned, though, since Angel Pagan’s brief misplay in left field had allowed Lee to reach second base on his single.

“He had some success in Houston against that same group,” Manuel said about the original decision to go with Parnell in the ninth. “You try to get what you think is a favorable matchup for him to have some success and obviously gain the confidence to give us the option of using he or Takahashi in that situation. He did a good job on Hunter Pence to get him with a slider. And, you know, Carlos Lee is a veteran hitter. And the other guy [Johnson], he got that ball up and they put it in play.”

.500 CLUB: The Mets have not been two games under .500 since May 22. In fact, the Mets (64-64) have been within a game of .500 for the entire month of August. That’s directly attributable to having not won or lost more than two games in a row this month. … Carlos Beltran had his first steal, and second attempt, since rejoining the Mets. It came 39 games into his 2010 season. Beltran’s last steal came June 19, 2009 against Tampa Bay. “I think Carlos’ legs are feeling OK,” Manuel said. “He’s obviously still making some adjustments from the left side.” … Manuel offered no indication he would consider flipping Beltran and Pagan and have Beltran play a corner outfield spot. “We like what we see because of the size of the left field that we have,” Manuel said, referring to using Pagan in left field. “And we’ll stay with that.” … Jeff Francoeur picked up his National League-leading 10th outfield assist when Chris Johnson misread his third base coach’s sign, thought the top of the fourth inning was over and was tagged out. … Pelfrey’s 124 pitches, in addition to being a career high, were the most by a Mets pitcher this season. It actually was the most by a Mets pitcher since Nelson Figueroa, who opposed Pelfrey on Friday night, also threw 124 pitches, on Sept. 22, 2009 against Atlanta. … The Mets essentially played with a 23-man roster with Manuel unwilling to use Oliver Perez and Jose Reyes unavailable. … Ruben Tejada, with a seventh-inning single, is now 2-for-38 since returning from Buffalo. … Henry Blanco has thrown out 11 of 22 would-base base stealers this season, the best percentage in the majors among catchers who have played 30 games.



Daniel Murphy
.301 9 53 73
HRL. Duda 26
RBIL. Duda 76
RD. Murphy 73
OPSL. Duda .845
WB. Colon 12
ERAZ. Wheeler 3.44
SOZ. Wheeler 155