Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon recently told Newsday that the Mets are headed in the right direction and GM Sandy Alderson is on course to improve the team.
“We’re coming to the end of the time when we have had an overhang of players who got hurt or didn’t play well, and I think that Sandy Alderson and his staff have a plan,” Wilpon said.
In talking more and more with people around baseball, and the team, it seems “The Plan” breaks down like this: Develop the best young, powerful pitching possible; have two to three young, legit bats under long-term contracts (be it home grown or acquired via trade); and then mix, match and roll the dice on the rest of the roster.
“It’s what the Giants and A’s do so well,” an executive from another team told me. “In other words, Tuesday is Alderson’s ‘Plan,’” he said, referring to Tuesday’s double-header featuring Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, who will make his big-league debut.
The Mets are going to try to make two rounds of acquisitions over the next few weeks, according to league sources. The first attempt could come sooner than later, as Alderson works to bring in one or two veterans to help short-term on the 25-man roster, most likely a first baseman, so Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy can stay in their previous positions, while everyone waits on Ike Davis in Triple-A.
The second phase will be an effort to trade minor-league pitching for an established bat, under contract, probably around the time of the July 31 Trade Deadline.
Then, after that, it’s bank on Harvey, Wheeler, Jon Niese, David Wright, Daniel Murphy and the mystery acquisition… and then hope evidence, execution and luck treat the Mets like it treats the Giants and A’s. This, as I understand, is The Plan, and it is more or less on display today in Atlanta…
To read a lot more quotes from Wilpon, in regards to Alderson’s plan, and how he is personally impacted by the team’s winning and losing, check out this report in Newsday.
The Mets have added Zack Wheeler as a 12th man to the big-league roster for the purposes of today’s double-header.
As such, if Wheeler pitches today and the weather doesn’t interfere, he will be sent back to the minors, most likely Triple-A Las Vegas, until Monday or Tuesday of next week, when he is expected to rejoin the Mets for his second big-league start.
“The purpose of this move, which is available to us due to this 12th man rule, is to be able to keep a full compliment of 25 players, in spite of the fact that – at least temporarily – we are in a six-man rotation,” Alderson explained.
According to Alderson, Wheeler has been aware of this move since Monday, when he joined the team in Atlanta.
Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
This is smart. It’s the best and only way to play this. It’s a wrinkle in the rule, and Alderson is capitalizing on it to give him the most available players during the next week of games. Wheeler will have to go to a minor-league affiliate, but he won’t start, he’ll just throw his bullpen and wait. It’s what he’d be doing with the big-league team, but just not actually with the big-league team. Then, next week, he’ll rejoin the Mets and probably stay – hopefully – for the rest of his career…
Justin Turner has been placed on the disabled list with an intercostal strain.
Scott Atchison and Zack Wheeler have been added to the roster, which is allowed to go up to 26 players due to the scheduled doubleheader.
This means the Mets will carry only four position players for today’s first game, with Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Jordany Valdespin, Josh Satin and backup catcher Anthony Recker on the bench.
Michael Baron, Contributor
Today feels like a new chapter for the Mets, with Zack Wheeler making his big league debut tonight.
I met Wheeler almost immediately after the team acquired him, and what impressed me the most was how he had an understanding about his own strengths and weaknesses, and what he needed to work on mechanically to take the next steps and move up within the organization.
There’s been a lot of talk about how his personality compares to Matt Harvey; and, while they do in fact contrast, not a single person I’ve talked to over the last year is the least bit concerned about it.
Who is like Matt Harvey, especially among the younger group of pitchers in this league? Harvey is a rare breed, and it’s nice to have him on our side, but this should take nothing away from what Wheeler is capable of doing at the big-league level.
“I can’t wait to see Wheeler,’’ Marlon Byrd told the New York Post. “Having Harvey and Wheeler back-to-back now, I’m excited.”
I feel the same way. I haven’t been this excited to watch Mets baseball in a long time; and it comes at a good time. The Mets need us to be excited and interested again… badly.
“This gives you a pretty good look at what 40 percent of the staff is going to look like,” David Wright explained to the Post. “I’m excited to see Wheeler throw, and hopefully he can learn from what Matt has been through and kind of buddy up next to him in both work ethic and preparation.’’
Wright brings up a good point. Yes, Wheeler has the stuff to be just as exciting as Harvey, if not more. But, it’s unfair to expect Wheeler to come up, pitch Cy Young-caliber baseball, and save the 2013 Mets…
“It’s not gonna happen in one game,” Tom Seaver told Steve Serby of the New York Post. “And you shouldn’t think, ‘Here I am for the next 20 years,’ either. It might be a month, or two months, before you really understand who you are and if you can or cannot do this. This is a continual learning curve.”
Wheeler will take his lumps. Part of the fun of this process will be watching these players grow and mature from moment to moment.
Wheeler’s arrival is the dawn of a new day; and it is remarkable that a guy, who has never thrown a single pitch in the big leagues, can generate so much buzz. It speaks to a fan base, and players, who are still willing to believe.
Happy Harvey Day… and Happy Wheeler Day… everyone…
This afternoon at 1:10 pm ET, the Mets play the first game of their day-night doubleheader against the Braves at Turner Field.
Matt Harvey (5-1, 2.04 ERA) starts the first game against Alex Wood (0-0, 3.52 ERA).
The second game will begin at 7:10 pm ET, with Zack Wheeler making his major league debut against Paul Maholm (7-5, 3.65 ERA).
Justin Turner is expected to be placed on the disabled list today with a strained intercostal muscle on his left side, after which the team will likely activate relief pitcher Scott Atchison from the disabled list, Terry Collins suggested to reporters yesterday.
The Mets and Nationals lost last night, while the Braves, Marlins and Phillies won.
To read about last night’s loss to the Braves, check out this post on MetsBlog, as well as beat reports from MLB.com, the Wall Street Journal, Star-Ledger, Bergen Record, Journal News,ESPN New York, Newsday, the Daily News and New York Post.
The Least You Should Know
Dillon Gee was on the verge of one of the best starts of his career, giving up just 3 hits in the first 8 innings, before Freddy Freeman hit a 2-run walk-off homerun to hand him the loss. Gee also drove in the Met’s only run.
The Mets’ infield and outfield defense were all on their toes tonight, despite the late start to the game and some new positionings, which contributed to a very quick and clean game.
The Mets offense was characteristically weak, scratching out a single run and managing only one extra base hit all night.
Duda had a great game all-around, collecting 4 hits and looking very slick at first base.
Tonight’s game was delayed by rain for 3 hours and 43 minutes and ended at 1:23 am.
Maggie Wiggin, Contributor
After putting together a string of three strong starts, Gee really pitched extremely well, despite the loss, coming a single poor pitch away from a complete game shutout. He was very efficient, throwing just 101 pitches through 8.1 IP, something all sleep-deprived baseball fans really appreciated. His fastball velocity was back up in the low 90′s and he kept the Braves off-balance with some sharp breaking pitches. Unfortunately, Freeman had him figured out all night and when a slider caught a bit too much plate with one on and one out in the 9th, he sent it over the right field wall and sent Braves home happy.
The offense was awful again, failing to take advantage of baserunners in 8 of 9 innings. Lagares in particular looked overmatched in his first game in the leadoff position, going 0 for 4 with two ugly strikeouts, although he did make a nice catch on the warning track to take an extra-base hit away from Uggla. There’s not much more to say about the Mets behind the plate right now, they are simply failing to produce and their incompetence pretty much killed shot at a well-deserved victory. 2 runs over 8.1 innings should be a win, it’s as simple as that.
A small silver lining to tonight’s disappointment was the re-jiggered Mets defensive lineup. They all looked very comfortable out on the field as Murphy transitioned back to second without a hitch and Duda made Ike twitch nervously in AAA with surprisingly sure-handed defense at first. If Duda’s fielding weaknesses can be neutralized by this move, he has the potential to bring a lot of offensive value to this team. Despite the lack of timely hitting, I do hope we get to see this defensive alignment again soon.
W.B. Mason Post Game Extra
Tomorrow at 1:10 pm ET, the Mets play the first game of their day-night doubleheader against the Braves at Turner Field, with Matt Harvey (5-1, 2.04 ERA) facing Alex Wood (0-0, 3.52 ERA). The second game will begin at 7:10 pm ET, with Zack Wheeler making his major league debut against Paul Maholm (7-5, 3.65 ERA).
Travis d’Arnaud met with doctors in New York today and he has been cleared to begin a “running progression program,” he told MetsBlog.
He’s safe to remove his boot — which he said he hasn’t needed for the last week — and will head back to Port St. Lucie to continue his rehab, d’Arnaud said.
Matt den Dekker is beginning his rehab assignment with Single-A St. Lucie tonight, and will hit leadoff and play center field.
Den Dekker broke his wrist while jumping after a ball in center field during a Spring Training game on March 24. His cast was removed on April 29.
Den Dekker is not on the 40-man roster.
Michael Baron, ContributorI’m willing to bet if den Dekker had stayed healthy and hit a little bit at Triple-A, he might be on the big league roster now. Given the state of the current outfield, it’s worth watching how den Dekker progresses through his rehab and his return to Triple-A later in the year. Den Dekker is not on the 40-man roster, but if he shows progress, it’s not unreasonable to think he could be in the big leagues at some point in the second half.