Mets fans have heard the term “phenomenon” used to describe pitcher Zack Wheeler ever since he arrived from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Carlos Beltran in July 2011. The season-ending elbow injury to Matt Harvey put even more attention and pressure on Wheeler to pick up the slack for the Mets to have any shot at a winning season in 2014.
While Zack certainly can hit the upper 90s with his fastball, his control is awful. The Mets have played a number of nine-inning games that have gone way past three hours, and they always seem to be ones Wheeler started because he goes to full counts on nearly every hitter and then frequently walks them.
Citi Field opened five years ago and the Mets have not had a winning season since. Throw in the last two years they played in Shea Stadium, 2007 and 2008, when they were in first place in September in the National League East only to wind up behind the Philadelphia Phillies, and Mets fans must feel as if they have endured a biblical seven years of famine. Well, fans of our Flushing heroes, get ready for year No. 8.
To say the fan base is dispirited is an understatement. Two years ago it appeared that Mets ownership was going to turn the page on player salaries when it settled with Irving Picard, the trustee seeking compensation for the victims of the Madoff Securities scandal. Picard had determined the Mets owners, Fred Wilpon and his brother-in-law Saul Katz, had been unjustifiably enriched by Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme even though they were not complicit.
In an Opening Day filled with dramatic home runs, clutch strikeouts and a two out, ninth inning comeback, the second largest crowd in Citi Field history got its money's worth.
But even with a re-tooled roster and a rare sell out crowd cheering them on, they still looked like the same old Mets.
Pitcher Zack Wheeler, left, with Mr. Met and Santa in the snowy City Field stadium.
Mofan Huang of PS 21 sits on Santa’s lap. With them are Mr. Met and Zack Wheeler, who acted as his elf.
The Mets hosted their annual holiday party for youngsters on Tuesday at Citi Field with lunch, entertainment and gifts. About 100 children from PS 20 and PS 21, both in Flushing, and Pioneer Academy in Corona performed songs and then got presents from Santa Claus, also known as second baseman Daniel Murphy, and his elf, pitcher Zack Wheeler.
The Mets hosted their annual holiday party for youngsters on Tuesday at Citi Field with lunch, entertainment and gifts.
About 100 children from PS 20 and PS 21, both in Flushing, and Pioneer Academy in Corona performed songs and then got presents from Santa Claus, also known as second baseman Daniel Murphy, and his elf, pitcher Zack Wheeler.
Although it was a foregone conclusion that Mets ace pitcher Matt Harvey would need Tommy John surgery to repair damage on his pitching elbow and miss the entire 2014 season, many Mets fans on social media, along with a good number of sportswriters, reacted as if they had just learned that the sky was falling. You would have thought these folks were expecting a parade down the Canyon of Heroes next November if Harvey were part of the Mets rotation in 2014.
The success rate for Tommy John surgery is reportedly over 90 percent. Given Harvey’s competitive nature, which probably breeds the arrogance that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, I fully expect him to be as good, if not better, when he returns to the mound in 2015.
In yet another dreary Mets season, Matt Harvey did give fans a number of thrills, such as throwing two scoreless innings as the starting pitcher in the 2013 All-Star Game played at Citi Field this past July. You would have to go back nearly 30 years to Dwight Gooden’s heyday to find a Mets pitcher who could dominate opposing hitters at will.
Harvey was such a big story that Jimmy Fallon used him for a hilarious “man in the street” bit to see how many New Yorkers could recognize him. ESPN Magazine put him on the cover in the buff for its July “body issue” while Men’s Journal ran a feature on him that made it clear he was thoroughly enjoying the trappings of being a handsome, young New York celebrity.
The Mets, a team starved for outfielders who can hit, selected Brandon Nimmo, an 18-year-old from Cheyenne, Wyo., with their first pick in the 2011 Major League Baseball amateur draft.
Mets fans may be disappointed that Nimmo has not followed in the superstar footsteps of phenoms Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, who are more or less the same age as he is but have already been making their presence felt in the big leagues. Both of them were in the starting lineup at the recent All-Star Game at Citi Field. Nimmo was also at the ballpark for the All-Star festivities, but he was there for the Futures Game, which spotlights minor leaguers who are expected to be the major-league stars of tomorrow.
Amid the hoopla of New York Mets phenom Matt Harvey being tabbed to start Tuesday’s All-Star Game for the National League at Citi Field, rotation mate Jeremy Hefner – believe it or not – has been the Mets’ best starter since June.
As the saying goes: One man’s trash is another man’s gain.
After waiting nearly two years for this day, the New York Mets showcased the foundation of their franchise Tuesday during a day-night doubleheader against the National League East-leading Atlanta Braves at Turner Field, providing a beacon of hope for the team’s otherwise hopeless 2013 season.
June 18, 2013 was a historic day for the New York Mets.
New York Mets top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler is on the verge of the joining the big league club. Wheeler’s much-anticipated major league debut, scheduled for Tuesday in Atlanta, will inevitably bump a pitcher out of the Mets’ starting rotation.
Barring injury, there are currently two candidates competing to avoid being moved to the bullpen at Wheeler’s expense. Those two would be Dillon Gee and Jeremy Hefner.
O-M-Gee, for the first time since the Subway series began in 1997, the Mets have swept a season series from the Yankees.
With Zack Wheeler still presumably on the brink of joining the big league club in mid-June, a starter will have to be dropped from the rotation, and – barring injury – Dillon Gee appeared to be the odd man out entering his start in the series finale Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. In fact, manager Terry Collins informed Gee face-to-face that he was headed for the bullpen if he didn’t take a significant step forward. Apparently, the 27-year-old Gee got the message loud and clear.
There has been an ongoing debate about how the New York Mets will alter their starting rotation when Zack Wheeler, the team’s top pitching prospect, makes his much-anticipated debut – probably sometime next month.
Two of the team’s current five starters – Matt Harvey and Jonathon Niese – aren’t going anywhere. On Sunday night, Shaun Marcum, 31, took a step in the right direction to add his name to that list.
It’s long been said that pinch-hitting is one of the most difficult things to do in baseball. But Mets utility man Jordany Valdespin has mastered it through his first one-plus seasons in the big leagues.
Of Valdespin’s 10 career home runs, six have come as a pinch hitter.
Howard Megdal is the Mets beat writer for The Journal News, serving as the lead writer for the paper’s Mets blog, Mets.LoHudBlogs.com. In addition, Megdal is the author of “Wilpon’s Folly: The Story of A Man, His Fortune and The New York Mets,” in which he chronicles the financial and legal difficulties of the team’s owners.
I recently had the chance to interview Megdal, where he gave his assessment of this year’s team, talked about which Met has the most upside and estimated how many wins this year’s team could have, if all goes well. You can follow Megdal on Twitter @HowardMegdal.
When the New York Mets hired Terry Collins to be the team’s manager Nov. 23, 2010, I remember the first thing I said to myself was, “Who?” Then, after doing some research, I thought to myself, “Really?” “This is who general manager Sandy Alderson has tabbed to be the team’s new skipper?”
With the exception of Jon Niese and Matt Harvey, the Mets’ rotation has been abysmal through the first two weeks of the season. So calling up Zack Wheeler, the team’s top pitching prospect, would seem like the answer to that problem, right? Not so fast.
One would be skeptical of the Mets’ 2013 season after another second-half collapse last year and the departure of 20-game winner and National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey over the winter.
But fans created an electrifying atmosphere at Citi Field for the season opener as they watched the Mets beat the San Diego Padres 11-2, collecting 13 hits including a grand slam from newcomer Collin Cowgill.