New York Mets: Justin Turner
Getty ImagesThe Mets cut loose Jeremy Hefner and Justin Turner late Monday.
That brings to five the total number of players who became free agents. Scott Atchison, Jordany Valdespin and Omar Quintanilla already had been known.
The Mets are free to re-sign the players, but they also can sign elsewhere.
Hefner was due to miss the 2014 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, so the Mets save his salary. But they would have controlled Hefner in 2015 and beyond if they kept him on the payroll.
Turner was a popular clubhouse presence.
Here is a list of players from the Mets organization currently with teams in the various offseason leagues. Others will be added in the near future.
Octavio Acosta, Algodoneros de Guasave, Mexico
Chasen Bradford, Scottsdale Scorpions, Arizona
Marco Camarena, Tomateros de Culiacan, Mexico
Miller Diaz, Leones del Caracas, Venezuela
Jeurys Familia, Scottsdale Scorpions, Arizona
Justin Hampson, Tigres de Aragua, Venezuela
Luis Rengel, Cardenales de Lara, Venezuela
Hansel Robles, Scottsdale Scorpions, Arizona
Cody Satterwhite, Scottsdale Scorpions, Arizona
Xorge Carrillo, Aguilas de Mexicali, Mexico
Juan Carlos Gamboa, Caneros de los Mochis, Mexico
Albert Cordero, Leones del Caracas, Venezuela
Cam Maron, Scottsdale Scorpions, Arizona
Aderlin Rodriguez, Scottsdale Scorpions, Arizona
Wilfredo Tovar, Navegantes de Magallanes, Venezuela
Cory Vaughn, Scottsdale Scorpions, Arizona
Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens is managing Leones del Caracas.
• LaTroy Hawkins, right-handed reliever. Hawkins appears the most likely to be re-signed, even though he will be 41 years old next season. He was productive stepping into the closer’s role after Bobby Parnell's injury, while dialing his fastball up to 95 mph.
• Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang, right-handed starters. Terry Collins liked Dice-K, so perhaps it is not out of the realm of possibility to re-sign him as a fifth-starter competitor who would allow Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom to open the season in the minors. For that matter, Harang fits that profile, too.
• Tim Byrdak and Pedro Feliciano, left-handed relievers. Both returned from shoulder injuries after missing substantial time. It likely is time for the Mets to move on from both, but their careers do not appear over yet.
• David Aardsma, right-handed reliever. Productive, although he wilted with too much use. Aardsma could be useful to re-sign if the price is right.
• Frank Francisco, right-handed reliever. The ex-closer collected $6.5 million this season while mostly nursing a sore elbow and irking Mets officials. No chance he returns.
• Johan Santana, left-handed starter. The one-time ace wants to pitch again after undergoing a second surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. If he is capable, he very likely would sign elsewhere. The best news: Santana's $31 million owed in 2013, including a buyout of next season, comes off the books.
Signed to contracts
• Jonathon Niese, left-handed starter. After missing nearly two months with a rotator cuff strain, Niese finished strongly and should help anchor the 2014 rotation. His salary jumps to $5 million next season, up from $3 million this year.
• David Wright, third baseman. The captain sees a major salary bump. Wright will earn $20 million in 2014 -- a raise of $9 million.
• Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, first basemen. It is likely one gets traded, although there is a slim chance Duda opens the season at Triple-A with Davis at Citi Field. Davis made $3.125 million this year and could receive an ever-so-slight pay cut. The Mets insist he will not be non-tendered. Duda, first-time eligible for arbitration, likely only makes $700,000 or $800,000 in 2014.
• Parnell, closer. Doctors assure Collins that Parnell will be fine for spring training after undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck, but the manager is concerned. Vic Black would be the alternative. Parnell’s salary should creep upward after he earned $1.7 million while converting 22 of 26 save chances.
• Dillon Gee, right-handed starter. Gee missed 200 innings by one frame. He will be first-time eligible for arbitration.
• Daniel Murphy, second baseman. ESPNNewYork.com hears the Mets will listen on offers for Murphy, but the best bet is he is the Opening Day second baseman. Murphy is due to get another raise after earning $2.925 million this season.
• Ruben Tejada, shortstop. After the broken leg mends, Tejada needs to seriously demonstrate his work ethic to the organization. Still, that may not be enough if the Mets can find the right external shortstop addition.
• Justin Turner, infielder. The best bet is that he serves as a backup infielder again next season.
• Eric Young Jr., outfielder/second baseman. The Mets recognize they need his speed in the lineup. So Young should be in the starting lineup somewhere next season, whether that’s in the outfield or at second base.
• Scott Atchison, right-handed reliever. Believe it or not, while Atchison is 37 years old, he does not have enough MLB service time to be eligible for free agency. He is a definite non-tender candidate in December.
• Mike Baxter, outfielder. Baxter should be arbitration eligible as a Super 2. Regardless, his 40-man roster spot appears in jeopardy. That does not preclude Baxter from being re-signed to a minor league deal. The 2013 Baxter, who hit .189, did not resemble the 2012 Baxter. The Mets believe the shoulder injury suffered in Santana's no-hitter may have hurt Baxter's swing.
• Omar Quintanilla, shortstop. The Mets view Q as a backup, not a full-time player.
• Matt Harvey, right-handed starter. The question remains: Tommy John surgery or no Tommy John surgery? Harvey should be airing it out in about six weeks, perhaps in the Arizona Fall League, to see whether the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow will hold up.
• Zack Wheeler, right-handed starter. Wheeler should be good for 200 innings in 2014.
• Black, right-handed reliever. If Parnell is not ready to close because of a slow recovery from surgery, the hard-throwing Black is the primary alternative. Otherwise, Black projects as handling the eighth inning next season.
• Travis d’Arnaud, catcher. He’s the guy behind the plate, but needs to shorten his swing after hitting .202 in his first major league season.
• Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker, center fielders. Lagares had a franchise-rookie-record 15 outfield assists and is very likely the full-time center fielder in 2014, even with some offensive difficulties. Den Dekker is just as likely to open next season in Triple-A. The Mets do not plan to platoon Lagares and den Dekker in the majors -- not in April, anyway.
• Josh Edgin and Scott Rice, left-handed relievers. Both are coming off surgeries. The Mets need to find a lefty from outside the organization they can trust, but Rice and Edgin could be useful complements.
• Jeurys Familia and Gonzalez Germen, right-handed relievers. Both should vie for a bullpen role in 2014.
• Jeremy Hefner, right-handed starter. Hefner will miss most, if not all, of 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
• Anthony Recker, catcher. After a nearly full season in the majors, Recker could find himself in Triple-A in 2014. Sandy Alderson has suggested he needs to find a veteran catcher in case d’Arnaud’s injury propensity continues.
• Josh Satin, infielder. A year after being taken off the 40-man roster and clearing waivers, Satin is now viewed as a valuable righty bat for the bench who can get on base. Look for him to have a backup role in 2014.
• Carlos Torres, right-handed starter/reliever. Torres would appear to have a legitimate shot as the long reliever/spot starter.
• Jordany Valdespin, infielder. The Biogenesis suspension is his latest baggage. It would be surprising if he makes it to spring training as a Met.
• Greg Burke, Robert Carson and Sean Henn, relievers. If they survive the winter on the 40-man roster, they look Triple-A bound.
• Andrew Brown, Juan Centeno, Wilmer Flores, Zach Lutz and Wilfredo Tovar, 51s. Centeno and Recker could be the Triple-A catchers. Flores likely is ticketed for Las Vegas, according to Collins, if the infielder is not going to be a starter at the major league level. Lutz and Tovar probably open next season in the minors, too. Brown’s 40-man roster spot is an open question.
• Jenrry Mejia, right-handed starter. Mejia showed flashes as a starting pitcher before surgery to clean out his right elbow. He is a logical fifth-starter competitor in spring training.
• Kirk Nieuwenhuis, outfielder. Getting snubbed for a September call-up does not bode well for Nieuwenhuis’ future with the organization.
Here are five questions that must be resolved:
1. Who gets dealt?
Something figures to give at first base between Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, but that is not the most intriguing trade chip the Mets possess. Team insiders say the Mets also will listen on Daniel Murphy.
How would the Mets adjust to trading Murphy? Fans may clamor for Wilmer Flores to take over at second base, but the early insider speculation is that Eric Young Jr. most likely would handle the position.
While not labeling it a mistake to let Jose Reyes walk given the contract he received from the Miami Marlins, Mets execs recognize they have lacked a speed element since his departure. At least, they lacked a speed element until Young arrived in a June 18 trade with the Colorado Rockies for Collin McHugh.
So absent another leadoff hitter and deficient in speed throughout the lineup, Young likely is a starter somewhere on the Mets next season -- even though he may be best-suited on a top team as a fourth or fifth outfielder.
As for Duda or Davis, there are strong internal preferences about which first baseman to retain. An ESPNNewYork.com survey found seven of nine scouts preferred Duda.
But the Mets’ approach is expected to be to solicit offers on Davis and Duda and see which commands the more generous offer relative to his internal value.
While it seems likely one departs, Duda does have a minor league option remaining. So there is a scenario in which both return and Duda opens the season at Las Vegas while the Mets see whether Davis again starts the season slowly.
Regardless, there seems to be no consideration to nontendering Davis in December, despite his $3.125 million salary in 2013.
2. What’s the 2014 payroll?
Money always seems to be the question with the Mets.
And brace yourself: The payroll likely will go down from its 2013 level of roughly $95 million.
Mets insiders suggest they have more than adequate flexibility to be aggressive in free agency if they choose. But, they add, it would not be “sane” after getting out from under albatross contracts to reinvest all that money in one offseason and likely get saddled with a new crop of bad contracts down the road.
Coming off the books:
• Johan Santana, $31 million (including a $5.5 million buyout)
• Jason Bay, $21 million (albeit $15 million deferred as much as two years)
• Frank Francisco, $6.5 million
• John Buck, $6 million (less what the Pittsburgh Pirates picked up for September)
• Shaun Marcum, $5 million-plus (including incentives)
That’s roughly $70 million right there.
David Wright’s contract calls for a $9 million raise, and Jonathon Niese gets a $2 million raise. A handful of other players eligible for arbitration will have salary increases too.
But there is little chance those raises, plus external additions, match the amount coming off the books.
So figure the Mets’ payroll to go modestly down in 2014, even with several external additions.
3. Will the Mets sign a top-tier free agent?
As it turns out, the Mets will have a top-10 draft pick -- meaning they will not need to forfeit their first-round selection if they sign a premium free agent such as Shin-Soo Choo.
The Mets, according to an insider, also do not intend to offer more than a Michael Bourn-type contract for Choo, which means four guaranteed years. Their reasoning: Choo is not an exceptional fielder. And his power potential is not equivalent to outfielders who have received megadeals, such as Jayson Werth (seven years, $126 million in December 2010).
So if Scott Boras can do better -- and the bet is he can, especially with Hunter Pence getting five years and $90 million to stay with the San Francisco Giants -- Choo likely is headed elsewhere.
Look for the Mets to adopt the Boston Red Sox's model from last offseason, which means spending money on five or six middle-tier free agents.
Last offseason, Boston signed:
• Shane Victorino, three years, $39 million
• Ryan Dempster, two years, $26.5 million
• Jonny Gomes, two years, $10 million
• Stephen Drew, one year, $9.5 million
• David Ross, two years, $6.2 million
• Mike Napoli, one year, $5 million
• Koji Uehara, one year, $4.25 million.
They also acquired Joel Hanrahan in a trade.
4. Will Harvey need surgery?
The Mets and Matt Harvey clearly are on different pages about the need for Tommy John surgery.
The Mets’ press release at the time of Harvey’s announcement that he would attempt rehab and a throwing program for six to eight weeks clearly implied Harvey needed to disprove the need for surgery with that two-month program.
So the Mets likely need to obtain one veteran starting pitcher as a hedge against Harvey missing next season. If Harvey ends up OK, that starter could compete with youngsters such as Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.
The question becomes: Will the acquisition be at the Bronson Arroyo-type price? Or at the Daisuke Matsuzaka/Aaron Harang level?
(If Harvey commits to surgery within a couple of months, the Mets likely would need to be more aggressive.)
One reunion ESPNNewYork.com hears is unlikely to occur: the Mets and Scott Kazmir.
Right-hander Cory Mazzoni -- a Double-A starter this season -- could compete for a bullpen spot out of spring training but is not in the rotation consideration right now. Double-A closer Jeff Walters may be a relief factor too.
Down the road, watch for right-hander Gabriel Ynoa -- a 17-game winner at low-Class A Savannah this season -- to rise quickly through the system and threaten to crack the big league rotation.
5. Who mans shortstop?
It might be easier to answer the question: Who doesn’t man shortstop?
It remains unclear whether the Mets will go outside the organization, although that would seem the better course.
Team insiders believe that if the Mets can get above-average production from the corner outfielders they add this winter, then maybe they can go with a defensive-oriented shortstop.
The organization consensus is Omar Quintanilla cannot hit enough to be an every-day guy. And team brass believes Wilfredo Tovar needs more time in the minors for seasoning, despite the positive start to his major league career.
Terry Collins recently described the shortstop job as Ruben Tejada’s to lose among internal candidates. But that was the manager going rogue and not the organizational view.
So Tejada’s days with the Mets, at least in the majors, may be numbered.
The Mets do not view Tejada as a backup middle-infielder candidate. That is Justin Turner’s job in all likelihood in 2014.
So it likely is starter or bust for Tejada. And he is going to have to bust it to get into shape after his fractured leg heals to prove he merits the job.
Lynne Sladky/Associated PressMike Piazza will be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame on Sunday.
FIRST PITCH: Last call.
After winning five of six games on a trip to Philadelphia and Cincinnati, the Mets return home for their final series of the season -- a four-game set with the Milwaukee Brewers.
The weekend highlight comes Sunday, when Mike Piazza becomes the 27th inductee into the Mets Hall of Fame. The pregame ceremony begins approximately 12:55 p.m.
Piazza will join:
1981: Joan Payson and Casey Stengel
1982: Gil Hodges and George Weiss
1983: Bill Shea and Johnny Murphy
1984: Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner
1986: Bud Harrelson and Rusty Staub
1988: Tom Seaver
1989: Jerry Koosman
1990: Ed Kranepool
1991: Cleon Jones
1992: Jerry Grote
1993: Tug McGraw
1996: Mookie Wilson
1997: Keith Hernandez
2001: Gary Carter
2002: Tommie Agee
2010: Frank Cashen, Davey Johnson, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry
2012: John Franco
Dillon Gee (12-10, 3.54 ERA) makes his final 2013 start in Thursday’s 7:10 p.m. series opener. He opposes right-hander Johnny Hellweg (1-4, 7.43).
Carlos Torres faces Yovani Gallardo on Friday, followed by Aaron Harang versus September call-up Jimmy Nelson on Saturday.
Terry Collins has yet to name Jonathon Niese or Daisuke Matsuzaka his Sunday starter, although logic points to Niese after Dice-K threw 105 pitches Wednesday. Marco Estrada starts for the Brewers.
For those monitoring the Mets’ June 2014 draft-pick status, the winning spurt has not helped.
The Mets (73-85) currently would have the 12th pick, outside of the protected top 10.
Would having an unprotected pick dissuade the Mets from pursuing a top-tier free agent? Or, more cynically, give them the built-in excuse not to spend on the elite group? That remains to be seen.
I don’t view the draft-pick situation as relevant to what we’re doing here,” Sandy Alderson recently told Mike Puma in the Post. “We’re trying to win every game we play. We’re trying to build the credibility of the franchise, and that goes beyond where we’re picking in the draft.”
Thursday’s news reports:
• Matsuzaka, making a bid to be part of the 2014 Mets, tossed a four-hit shutout over 7 2/3 innings in a 1-0 win against the Reds at Great American Ball Park on Wednesday. After posting a 10.95 ERA in his first three starts, Matsuzaka has a 1.37 ERA in his past four starts.
Even if Matt Harvey is OK for 2014 -- clearly no given -- the Mets should need a veteran starter in camp to compete with Jacob deGrom and Rafael Montero for the fifth slot and to serve as a hedge against an injury
"My intentions are to stay here in the U.S. I want to continue pitching over here in the major leagues," Matsuzaka told reporters through his interpreter. "And, if my previous few starts have impressed anyone, then we'll just have to see.”
Meanwhile, Justin Turner, in his first action since straining his right hamstring on Sept. 10, started at third base in the place of resting David Wright and went 1-for-4. Wednesday’s win meant the Mets finished with a 41-40 road record.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and MLB.com.
• Juan Centeno became the first major league catcher to throw out Billy Hamilton on an attempted steal, after 13 straight successful attempts to begin the speedster’s career. Centeno threw out 56 percent of would-be base stealers (34 of 61) between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas this season. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Mike Kerwick in the Record chats with Lucas Duda about the first baseman’s future with the organization. Obviously, something has to give between Ike Davis and Duda.
"If it’s Ike, obviously we know what kind of guy he is," Duda told Kerwick. "A 30- to 40-home-run kind of guy. Plays great defense.
"Whatever happens, happens. You can’t really get mad or whatever it is. That’s the game. That’s the business. I understand it. If I happen to get traded or whatever happens, I’ll thank the Mets for giving me an opportunity and hope whatever situation I’m in I play as well as I can."
• Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger profiles Vic Black, who should be the primary closing candidate next season if Bobby Parnell has a rough recovery from surgery to repair a herniated disk. Collins indicated Parnell has lost 30 pounds since the neck ordeal began, although doctors feel he will be ready for spring training.
"Some guys have late life on the ball. Sometimes I play catch with him and he has, like, double life," LaTroy Hawkins told Castillo about Black. “The ball comes out of his hand and it picks up speed halfway and hits up another gear. It’s weird. It’s something I’ve never seen. That’s why I said he has a magical arm. I told him he has a magical arm."
Read more about Parnell’s status in the Daily News.
• Jared Diamond in the Journal suggests the talent gap between the Mets and Yankees has considerably closed. Diamond gives the edge to the Mets at catcher, third base, center field and with the starting pitching.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear relished the final midweek afternoon game of the year. … John Delcos at Mets Report does not want Matsuzaka starting the season finale.
BIRTHDAYS: Reliever Doug Sisk turns 56.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Should Daisuke Matsuzaka be a part of the 2014 Mets?
Final: Rays 8, #Yankees 3— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 26, 2013
David Wright gets the series finale off, as he did Sunday in Philly. Justin Turner gets his first start since straining his right hamstring on Sept. 10.
The Mets have a 40-40 road record entering their final game away from Citi Field.
Eric Young Jr., lf
Justin Turner, 3b
Daniel Murphy, 2b
Lucas Duda, 1b
Juan Lagares, cf
Mike Baxter, rf
Juan Centeno, c
Wilfredo Tovar, ss
Daisuke Matsuzaka, rhp
Billy Hamilton, cf
Shin-Soo Choo, lf
Joey Votto, 1b
Brandon Phillips, 2b
Jay Bruce, rf
Todd Frazier, 3b
Devin Mesoraco, c
Cesar Izturis, ss
Mat Latos, rhp
But Terry Collins confessed postgame that he actually had no intention of using Turner in the game.
Had Recker reached base, Collins hoped Turner being introduced as a pinch hitter would have prompted Giants manager Bruce Bochy to summon a righty pitcher to replace southpaw Javier Lopez. At that point, Collins would have countered by subbing lefty-hitting Mike Baxter for Turner.
Turner has not appeared in a game since Sept. 10 because of a Grade 1 right hamstring strain.
How close is Turner to returning to game action?
Turner said that's in the hands of the trainers at this point, but returning this weekend in Philadelphia is not out of the question. He did full baseball activities pregame Thursday, although he only ran at what he estimated was 75 or 80 percent.
Meanwhile, had the Mets tied the score, Collins said he was prepared to use Daniel Murphy at shortstop in extra innings. Omar Quintanilla had been pinch-hit for by Recker. And Wilfredo Tovar is not due to join the Mets until Friday.
Murphy has never appeared at shortstop in a professional game -- majors or minors.
Final score: San Francisco Giants 2, Mets 1.
A day after scoring four ninth-inning runs for a walk-off win, the Mets again threatened in the ninth. This time, pinch hitter Matt den Dekker walked to lead off and advanced to second on a bunt. But den Dekker was stranded there. Lucas Duda flied out and Anthony Recker struck out to end it.
The Mets nonetheless won the season series from the Giants, four games to two.
Niese surrendered two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out four. He departed trailing 2-1 for pinch hitter Zach Lutz in the bottom of the seventh after Omar Quintanilla blooped a two-out single into shallow left field.
Lutz walked, pushing the potential tying run to second base, but Bumgarner retired Eric Young Jr. on a groundout to shortstop to end the threat.
An inning earlier, the Mets similarly could not capitalize on an opportunity. With runners on the corners and two outs in the sixth against Bumgarner, Wilmer Flores’ hard-hit grounder back up the middle kicked off the pitcher's leg and directly to first baseman Buster Posey for the inning’s final out.
Bumgarner finished with 10 strikeouts in seven innings. He became the seventh pitcher this season with a double-digit strikeout performance against the Mets. He joined Chris Sale (13), Scott Kazmir (12), Max Scherzer (11), Tim Lincecum (11), Shelby Miller (10) and Mike Minor (10).
The Mets' lone run came on Daniel Murphy's fourth-inning single, which plated Josh Satin, who had doubled. The Amazin's had only two other hits the entire game.
Turner sighting: Justin Turner was on deck when the final out was made. It would have marked his first appearance since suffering a hamstring strain on Sept. 10.
What’s next: Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-3, 6.12 ERA) opposes left-hander Cole Hamels (8-13, 3.48) as the Mets open a three-game weekend series at Philadelphia at 7:05 p.m. ET Friday. David Wright is expected to be in the lineup for the first time since straining his right hamstring on Aug. 2.
ESPNMatt Harvey appeared on ESPN as a pitchman for Qualcomm. An appearance earlier in the day did not go very well.
FIRST PITCH: Ruben Tejada, quite literally, suffered a bad break.
Given a limited opportunity to prove he merits being the 2014 shortstop, Tejada’s audition of sorts is now over. He suffered a broken fibula in his right leg colliding with left fielder Andrew Brown while catching a pop fly in the top of the ninth during Wednesday’s 5-4 come-from-behind win against the San Francisco Giants.
Tejada, who turns 24 next month, hit .143 (3-for-21) in seven September starts after returning from a banishment to Triple-A Las Vegas. He finished the season hitting .203 overall in 208 at-bats. Sandy Alderson said it was “like pulling teeth” to get Tejada to do extra work.
By delaying Tejada’s free agency until after the 2017 season, the Mets do make Tejada marginally more marketable in a trade.
It would be no great surprise if the Mets’ Opening Day shortstop is not currently with the organization, since Omar Quintanilla is widely considered in baseball as a backup. All-Star Jhonny Peralta, currently serving a 50-game suspension related to Biogenesis, headlines the list of free agents at the position. (Nelson Cruz, another All-Star serving a 50-game suspension, also is a pending free agent, if the Mets are not averse to the Biogenesis route for adding outfield bats.)
Meanwhile, Jonathon Niese (7-7, 3.88 ERA) opposes fellow southpaw Madison Bumgarner (12-9, 2.83) in today’s 1:10 p.m. rubber game at Citi Field.
Thursday’s news reports:
• Josh Satin’s two-run single against All-Star Sergio Romo capped a four-run ninth as the Mets rallied to beat the Giants. In his major league debut, catcher Juan Centeno had two hits, including a run-scoring infield single earlier in the ninth-inning rally. The Mets, who entered the frame trailing 4-1, overcame their largest ninth-inning deficit since June 16. That day, they also had a four-run ninth, and beat the Chicago Cubs, 4-3, on Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ three-run homer.
Read game recaps in the Post, Star-Ledger and MLB.com.
• Matt Harvey publicly apologized to The Dan Patrick Show and Qualcomm on Wednesday afternoon, after his appearance that morning irked the host. Companies often pay for athletes to appear on shows, with the understanding the athlete will be given a brief opportunity to promote a product while otherwise answering topical sports questions.
When Harvey appeared with Patrick, he only wanted to talk about the wireless technology company, not his decision to forgo -- at least for now -- Tommy John surgery.
Asked about the scariness of the Tommy John surgery decision, Harvey said: “Every pitcher can relate to what’s going on. I did all of those answers yesterday. Maybe at the appropriate time we can talk about that. But obviously today’s about Qualcomm.”
Asked by an incredulous Patrick if he really did not want to talk about his elbow, Harvey added: “We can set up another call, if you’d like to, about that subject, but today we’re honoring and supporting Qualcomm.” (Watch on YouTube here.)
Presumably after getting some P.R. advice, Harvey did discuss with ESPN his decision to rehab rather than immediately undergo Tommy John surgery. Watch here.
Harvey eventually tweeted: “I’ve had a few rough outings on the mound, that was a rough outing on the radio this morning... Been an exhausting couple of days. Apologies to @DanPatrick and @Qualcomm”
The Daily News reported Harvey fired a publicist earlier this year after an ill-fated Men’s Journal article, and that this was his first time doing interviews as a paid spokesman for a company.
Read more in the Daily News, Post, Record and Newsday.
• Billy Wagner, who had Tommy John surgery while with the Mets, tells Mike Puma in the Post that Harvey is delaying the inevitable. “You can get it done now and be done with it, and the rehab is not a hard rehab,” Wagner told Puma. “… When I was rehabbing at 80 or 85 percent, I couldn’t tell anything was wrong. But as soon as I let it go a little bit, there’s a big difference.”
• Richard Sandomir in the Times writes that Tommy John surgery first is paid by workers’ compensation, with the difference covered by the team.
• Terry Collins, appearing on WFAN, cited Harvey’s determination as a reason why he may very well avoid Tommy John surgery. Said Collins: “I told one of the coaches today: I would not be afraid to have someone bet me that Matt Harvey will be the Opening Day pitcher, because I think he will be.”
Collins expects David Wright (hamstring strain) to return from the disabled list this weekend in Philly. The manager also predicted Wilmer Flores would open next season in the minors if there is no defined position for him, whereas Brown and Satin could be righty-hitting major league bench pieces in 2014.
As for Daniel Murphy, Collins said he again would expect to see him at second base next season -- “not at this moment” at first base next year. The manager did allow, though, for a scenario not currently foreseeable in which Eric Young Jr. mans second base and Murphy slides over to first base. “I don’t know what the winter is going to hold,” Collins said. Of course, that latter scenario would logically involve the departures of Ike Davis and Lucas Duda.
Collins noted the Mets will need to bring a veteran starting pitching hedge to camp, even if Harvey is OK in a rotation alongside Zack Wheeler, Niese and Dillon Gee. That veteran would compete with Jacob deGrom and Rafael Montero among others and also serve as a safety net in case of an injury. Asked if it could be a re-signed Aaron Harang, Collins said: “We’ve got to have one of those [veteran-type] guys coming into camp. Who that is I don’t know yet.”
(Alderson, who not too long ago said he would look to sign a major starting pitcher, did a 180-degree turn Tuesday on that topic.)
Listen to Collins’ full interview here.
• Read more on Tejada’s fractured fibula in the Star-Ledger, Daily News and Newsday.
• Missed Jerry Seinfeld appearing on Tuesday’s Mets telecast? You can watch the highlights here.
At one point, Seinfeld -- a Mets fan -- mocks the publicity Dr. James Andrews is getting for examining Harvey on Monday in Gulf Breeze, Fla.
• Keith Olbermann scolded Major League Baseball and, to a lesser extent, the Washington Nationals over wearing “Navy” hats during batting practice, but not in-game after the shooting at the Navy Yard, blocks from the team’s ballpark.
The issue is nearly identical to the Mets -- during games on the anniversary of 9/11 -- no longer wearing the caps of New York City first-responder agencies.
MLB has licensing agreements and does not grant in-game waivers for unauthorized caps it cannot market. The Nats did not even bother to ask about wearing the Navy caps in-game this time, Olbermann suggested, because MLB’s policy is clearly established and inflexible.
Nats manager Davey Johnson responded about Olbermann (via @JamesWagnerWP): “He’s not high on my list.”
• Wheeler is at 168 2/3 innings between the majors and minors this season, and the Mets likely want to cap the rookie at no more than 180 innings. So Collins said Wednesday it is unresolved whether Wheeler’s final start will be Monday in Cincinnati, or he also will appear in the regular-season finale the following Sunday at Citi Field against the Milwaukee Brewers as part of a continued six-man rotation. Mike Piazza will be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame that day. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• Travis d’Arnaud could return to the lineup today after missing a game. D’Arnaud was struck by a foul ball in the right shoulder off the bat of Hunter Pence on Tuesday. D’Arnaud has repeatedly gotten hit in the head of late as well, primarily from backswings.
"It’s more than I’ve ever seen, and it’s a little bit concerning," Mets bench coach Bob Geren told Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger about the beating d’Arnaud is taking.
Geren told Marc Carig in Newsday there is a “conundrum” because typically you move closer to the plate when getting hit by too many foul balls and farther away from the plate if you’re getting by backswings. And d’Arnaud is a victim of both.
Read more in the Record.
• Justin Turner (hamstring) is not ready to do baseball activities. Frank Francisco (hand) also is not ready to return.
• Howard Megdal at Capital New York finds Alderson’s unwillingness to speak about the team’s 2014 payroll troubling.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing would like Howie Rose to reunite with Gary Cohen on the season’s final day.
BIRTHDAYS: Left-hander Randall K. Myers turns 51.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Does Ruben Tejada deserve to be a part of the 2014 Mets?
I like when money makes a difference but don't make you different— Dominic Smith (@TheRealSmith22) September 19, 2013
The Mets and Miami Marlins play a single-admission doubleheader beginning at 4:10 p.m.
Matsuzaka (0-3, 8.00 ERA), coming off a solid performance against the Cleveland Indians, faces right-hander Henderson Alvarez (3-4, 4.34) in Game 1.
Carlos Torres (3-4, 3.53) opposes right-hander Jacob Turner (3-6, 3.43) in the second game.
Saturday’s news reports:
• Lucas Duda produced a three-run homer and Andrew Brown also went deep to lift the Mets to a 4-3 win against the Marlins on Friday night. Giancarlo Stanton homered twice for Miami. Jonathon Niese improved to 7- 7. The southpaw allowed three runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings. LaTroy Hawkins earned his ninth save.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger and MLB.com.
Yes Jason werth got hit by a pitch today, and no I wasn't there to see if anything happened before... But the guys in the New York booth are beyond clueless when it comes to knowing what goes thru the heads of the guys in that dugout!!! I even heard one of the idiots talking about Hefner, after he made a great pitch and have up a hit, talking about not knowing about Alfonso soriano's bat size. Last time I checked pitchers don't go thru th opposing teams dugout checking bat sizes. #getAclue
Let’s just say Marcum, who was released on July 23, collected more than $5 million from the Mets for a disgusting season … and wasn’t well-liked, to boot.
If Keith Hernandez had no class, he could borrow a line once directed at him and respond: “Voice from the grave.”
• Savannah won the South Atlantic League title with a 2-0 victory over Hagerstown in Game 4 of the best-of-five series. Stefan Sabol provided the offense with a two-run double. Long Island native Steven Matz tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings. Jeurys Familia, in his fourth minor league appearance since returning from surgery to clean out his elbow, contributed a 1-2-3 eighth. Gnats pitchers did not allow a run in 27 innings at home during the postseason.
• David Wright plans to run the bases full throttle today, in advance of trying to return from a Grade 2 right hamstring strain by the middle of next week. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger and Record.
• Justin Turner (Grade 1 right hamstring strain) is not expected to return to the lineup at least until Tuesday.
• Mike Kerwick in the Record features Juan Lagares.
• Bob Raissman in the Daily News sees a match between the Mets and ESPN New York 98.7.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing has a story about why gloating is never a good idea. ... John Delcos at Mets Report did not like Terry Collins' candor after Thursday's loss.
BIRTHDAYS: Submarine-style reliever Chad Bradford turns 39. He last pitched in the majors in 2009 with the Tampa Bay Rays.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Should Shaun Marcum just shut up and go away?
2013 SAL CHAMPS!! pic.twitter.com/ejhA22KedE— Brandon Nimmo (@You_Found_Nimmo) September 14, 2013
Collins said Wright will do some more base-running on Saturday before the doubleheader against Miami. "It's great," Collins said. "He looks great."
Wright has been sidelined since Aug. 2 with a strained right hamstring, and ran the bases for the first time on Wednesday. Running the bases had been the only baseball activity Wright had not done yet.
The third baseman has been adamant about wanting to return this season, and he could be back with the Mets by the middle of next week. Wright has played in just 105 games this season, and is hitting .309 with 16 home runs and 54 RBIs. The team sorely misses his bat in the middle of the lineup, especially after trading Marlon Byrd to the Pirates and losing Ike Davis to a strained oblique.
"I don't think the clock is going to run out," Wright said Monday. "I think I'll be back at least for a larger chunk of the remainder of the games. That's kind of the goal, and I haven't really even thought about not playing those."
TURNER NOT LIKELY VS. FISH: Injured utility player Justin Turner (hamstring) will probably not play this weekend against the Marlins, according to Collins. Turner suffered a small strain of his right hamstring Tuesday against the Nationals. He's hitting .345 in September.
"When he hurt it, it was going to be seven to 10 days. We're still in that seven-day period," Collins said. "Is he feeling better? Probably. Still going to be a few more days before he starts doing anything."
PRAISE FOR MURPHY: Collins praised second baseman Daniel Murphy for staying in the lineup down the stretch while battling nagging issues. Friday's game will be Murphy's 145th of the season, and he could play in 161 of the team's 162 games this year. He will bat third against the Marlins.
"Make no mistake, Dan's beat up," Collins said. "He plays so hard, he's always beat up. He slides hard, he dives for balls. That takes its toll on the season. He comes to the ballpark, he wants in the lineup. He never asks for a day off. That sends a huge message to all those young players.
"He's been our man of steel for sure."
Collins also credited Murphy for being a presence in the lineup while the big bats around him have been sidelined or traded away. Murphy is hitting .313 in his last 28 games, and is batting .281 with 10 homers and a career-best 68 RBIs on the season. He also has a career-high 18 stolen bases.
"Dan has been the backbone ever since David went out," Collins said. "He's the one guy that teams know is a professional hitter. To everybody in every club he's the dangerous guy in our lineup. And we needed that. We need to be able to lean on that type of guy."
And let’s just say Collins largely has not been thrilled with the players’ approaches at the plate after the Mets were shut out for the second time in three days Wednesday.
“We can sit here every night and discuss the same stuff over and over,” Collins said. “You’ve got to make adjustments. You can’t keep thinking you’re going to get balls to pull, or try to go up there and pull every pitch. You’ve got to step out of the batter’s box, or sit in the dugout and pay attention, and realize what the opposing pitcher is doing to get you out, and try to come up with a plan to make an adjustment at the plate and put the bat on the ball.
“I know they’re young. That’s all part of it. But, as we’ve said before, in the growing stages in this part of the year, we want to see some guys get better. And part of that getting better is being able to gather yourself on the side, and get in the batter’s box, and put a good at-bat on.”
The Mets try to get on track and avoid getting swept in the four-game series against the Washington Nationals when Aaron Harang makes his Mets debut opposite right-hander Tanner Roark at 1:10 p.m.
• Yankees president Randy Levine called it “very sad” that Bobby Valentine on Tuesday suggested the Yankees were AWOL when the city needed them after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, writes Andrew Marchand for ESPNNewYork.com. "Bobby Valentine should know better than to be pointing fingers on a day like today," Levine told Marchand. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Newsday and Star-Ledger.
• Collins will return to manage the Mets next season, Mike Puma reports in the Post. That is consistent with what ESPNNewYork.com reported Sept. 1. The organization would only shift course if something monumental occurred, such as a managerial behavior meltdown. As for the Mets’ 2-8 record in September, which is better than only the Chicago White Sox, a team official told Puma: Collins “can’t totally be graded on something he doesn’t have right now.”
As for Triple-A manager Wally Backman’s future, Puma writes:
According to sources, Backman considered tendering his resignation near the end of spring training because he was unhappy receiving orders from team officials about playing time for certain individuals. Backman then angered [Sandy] Alderson later in the season, with comments about how he would fix Ike Davis, after the first baseman was demoted to Las Vegas.
But Backman knows how to manage, something that was reaffirmed this season when he took Las Vegas to the Pacific Coast League playoffs despite having his roster decimated to fill holes with the Mets.
Look for Backman to land in another organization next season, unless the Mets are willing to give him a shot on the major league coaching staff. But such an addition could create an uncomfortable situation because of the mostly false perception that Backman would be the manager in waiting.
Puma also wrote:
Alderson, through channels, has made it known there is almost no chance he would hire popular Wally Backman to manage the Mets if there was an opening.
Backman has thrived managing at the Triple-A level, but there are fears within the organization he would clash with this front office, which -- make no mistake about it -- has the final word on everything related to the on-field product.
The Mets expect to have their first-base answer in-house, between Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Josh Satin, and will pencil in Travis d'Arnaud at catcher, Daniel Murphy at second base and [Juan] Lagares in center -- though they hope to see more offensive consistency from d'Arnaud and more plate discipline from Murphy. With David Wright back at third base, that will leave shortstop and the outfield corners as the main areas for import.
Ruben Tejada had a lost year and is out of favor and Omar Quintanilla looks like a utilityman, so shortstop will very likely be an emphasis, though the free-agent market at that premium position is less than promising. The emergence of Lagares, the addition of speedy veteran Eric Young Jr. and especially the enormous surprise season of Marlon Byrd meant a potential disaster area in the outfield was somewhat better than expected, but Byrd was traded to the Pirates and Young is seen as an excellent fourth or fifth outfielder they'd like to bring back as a backup. So outfield will once again be the biggest area to look at.
While Choo appears like the best fit, there will surely be a bidding war for a player who is second the National League with a .425 on-base percentage. Choo was below average in center field this year, but will presumably be coveted as a corner man by many teams.
• Zack Wheeler surrendered one run in seven innings, but the Mets were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention with a 3-0 loss to the Nationals on Wednesday night. The Mets mustered only three hits against Dan Haren and four relievers. Tejada went 0-for-3 in his first major league appearance since May 29.
Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Times, Star-Ledger, Record and MLB.com.
• Wheeler has tossed 163 2/3 innings. The organization is likely to let him make two more starts and approach 180 innings. Read more on a rookie pitcher trying to pitch deep into September in the Journal.
• The Yankees’ move to WFAN -- both AM and FM signals -- was made official Wednesday, bouncing the Mets elsewhere on the dial. Read more in Newsday, the Post and Journal.
• Wright ran the bases Wednesday for the first time since suffering a strained right hamstring. Collins estimates Wright may be back in a game by the middle of next week. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Journal.
• An MRI taken on Wednesday revealed Justin Turner suffered a small right hamstring strain a day earlier. Turner should miss a couple of games, Collins suggested.
• Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez has joined the major league coaching staff. Backman will not be added.
• D’Arnaud discusses his struggles in the Daily News. Scouts on Wednesday told ESPNNewYork.com that d’Arnaud is going to have to make his swing more compact. Right now, he is helpless against breaking balls. And it seems like he is not catching up to the fastballs he is sitting on. He is hitting .152 (10-for-66) with a homer and three RBIs since his promotion.
• Jorge Castillo in the Star-Ledger looks at Matt den Dekker’s season and future.
• From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing marks the passage of another lost season. … John Delcos at Mets Report suggests Valentine is misguided judging the Yankees’ post-9/11 contribution.
BIRTHDAYS: Luis Castillo, known during his Mets days for that drop at Yankee Stadium, turns 38.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Was Bobby Valentine in the wrong disparaging the Yankees’ contribution after 9/11?
@AdamRubinESPN Why do fans insist on seeing "the kids" play, then complain with the anemic results, like the last 2 series?— Anthony Messana (@AntJCM47) September 12, 2013
Turner left Tuesday's game experiencing what was described as tightness.
That total further declines when Wheeler (7-4, 3.38 ERA) opposes Washington Nationals right-hander Dan Haren (8-13, 5.23) at 7:10 tonight at Citi Field.
Wheeler’s next outing would come against his former employer, the San Francisco Giants, likely next Tuesday. It looks like Wheeler would get one more start beyond that before skipping one turn at the very end of the season.
For the record: The Mets’ tragic number for postseason elimination stands at two. A loss tonight would drop them a season-worst 16 games under .500.
Wednesday’s news reports:
• Chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon confirmed he expects the Mets to be changing radio affiliates for next season. The team has partnered with WFAN since 1987. The Yankees reportedly will move to that spot on the dial. Read more in Newsday, the Times, Post, Daily News, Journal, Star-Ledger and Record.
• Dr. Robert Watkins performed surgery on Bobby Parnell on Tuesday in California to repair a herniated disk in the closer’s back. Sandy Alderson said he expected Parnell to be unaffected during spring training. Lefty reliever Scott Rice also underwent surgery, in Philadelphia to repair bilateral sports hernias.
• Matt Harvey said he feels great and remains hopeful he will avoid Tommy John surgery, but conceded he will lean on doctors’ advice, including James Andrews. Harvey is due to visit Andrews on Monday for a second opinion regarding the ace’s partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. Harvey’s comments came as he joined David Wright, Wheeler and Wilpon for a visit to a midtown firehouse. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Times and MLB.com.
• Justin Turner plans to get an MRI of his right hamstring this morning after an issue arose as he rounded third base last night.
• With his free-agency eligibility delayed until after the 2017 season, Ruben Tejada joined the Mets on Tuesday. In response to Alderson’s recent criticism of his work ethic, Tejada said he is a hard worker. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Journal, Newsday, Star-Ledger and Record.
• Dillon Gee allowed solo homers to Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche and Nats beat the Mets, 6-3, Tuesday. Read game recaps in the Post and MLB.com.
• The Mets released their 2014 schedule. They open at home on March 31 against the Nats. There are four separate West Coast trips. The Mets play in the Bronx on May 12 and 13, then at Citi Field against the Yankees the following two days. Interleague series include trips to the L.A. Angels (April 11-13), Seattle (July 21-23) and Oakland (Aug. 19-20). The A’s (June 24-25), Rangers (July 4-6) and Astros (Sept. 26-28, to close the season) visit Citi Field. The last time the Mets visited Anaheim, back in June 2008, there was a 3 a.m. ET firing. Read more in the Star-Ledger.
• The Toronto Blue Jays confirmed they will face the Mets in exhibition games at Olympic Stadium in Montreal on March 28 and 29, 2014.
• In remembrance of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Mets will wear caps tonight representing different New York City first-responder organizations during batting practice -- but not in-game.
• Seth Lugo tossed six scoreless innings and Jeff Glenn went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs as Savannah beat Hagerstown, 6-2. The Gnats evened their best-of-five South Atlantic League championship series at a game apiece. Gabriel Ynoa gets Game 3 on Thursday in Savannah, with Long Island native Steven Matz set for Game 4. Read the full recap here.
• Read more on the Mets’ firehouse visit in the Daily News.
• From the bloggers … John Delcos at Mets Report considers what still drives people to watch the Mets. … Faith and Fear tunes in to the Mets' impending departure from WFAN.
BIRTHDAYS: Frank Francisco turns 34.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Is there a particular must-see Mets series in 2014?
@AdamRubinESPN Mayeb you should just post a surgery schedule instead of a game schedule.— Drew Kerr (@DrewKerr) September 10, 2013
"Probably the fourth or fifth step around third I felt it tighten up a little bit," Turner said. "I came in and the trainer said to shut it down. I've never had any hamstring problems before. This is the first time I've ever felt anything there. It almost feels like a charley horse or a cramp in there.
"I think I'm going to get a picture on it tomorrow and find out what exactly is going on in there. Hopefully it's not too bad and in a couple of days I'll be able to get back out there."
Gee note: Dillon Gee, who allowed four runs in 6 1/3 innings, including a pair of solo homers, said about his outing: "Obviously I wasn't commanding the ball as well as I have been. You can't get away with it against these guys. They made me pay."
On dekk: Matt den Dekker finished 1-for-3 with a two-run single and a walk. He sent another fly ball to the track, bidding for a game-tying homer. Den Dekker is now hitting .350 (7-for-20) with a homer and four RBIs in his past six games.
"Matt's going to be a good player," Terry Collins said. "The more he plays, the more comfortable he's going to be. ... It's going to be interesting when the time comes to see how this team is going to shape up with all those young outfielders coming up.
"He's got some power. I know he's going to hit some homers up here. He can play defense. The one thing we've got to get him to do is obviously handle some left-handed pitching, because if he can do that he's going to be a real good player."
7:30 PM ET New Jersey NY Rangers 10:30 PM ET NY Islanders Los Angeles
1:30 PM ET Fordham St. John's 7:00 PM ET Binghamton 4 Syracuse 7:00 PM ET Columbia Bucknell Postponed Hofstra SMU 3:00 PM ET St Francis (NY) Army 7:00 PM ET Fair Dickinson Princeton 7:00 PM ET Wagner Pennsylvania 11:00 AM ET La Salle Stony Brook 2:00 PM ET UMass Lowell N.J.I.T.
8:00 PM ET Seton Hall Rutgers 2:00 PM ET Monmouth Manhattan 1:30 PM ET Iona Fairfield 2:00 PM ET St. Peter's Niagara
7:30 PM ET Nashville NY Rangers 10:30 PM ET NY Islanders San Jose 7:00 PM ET New Jersey Columbus