John Harper

Sep 19, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone is sprayed with champagne as he celebrates after winning the American League East after defeating the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 19, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone is sprayed with champagne as he celebrates after winning the American League East after defeating the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

The Yankees waited deep into the night after losing on Wednesday, hoping for a Rays' loss that didn't come, but for a team that had nothing handed to it all season, winning on Thursday night surely was a more appropriate way to clinch the AL East.

Indeed, if ever a ballclub deserved to celebrate a division title it was these 2019 Yankees, overcoming a record number of injuries to win 100 games, and counting, for the second straight season.

Tags: Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Dellin Betances, Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Luis Severino (Adam Hunger)
Luis Severino (Adam Hunger)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

First things first: you can't help but feel for Dellin Betances, one of the good guys in baseball, who tore his Achilles tendon in a freakish manner Sunday on the very day he finally pitched in a game for the first time this season.

That's as cruel as it is painful, all the more so considering that he is a couple months away from becoming a free agent.

Yet the cold truth is that if the Yankees can have only one of the two star pitchers for whom they've waited all season, they would much prefer it to be Luis Severino.

Tags: Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, J.A. Happ, James Paxton, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Tommy Kahnle, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Mets RHP Zack Wheeler
Mets RHP Zack Wheeler

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

With September dominance, including Sunday night's gem of a start against the Dodgers, Zack Wheeler is making it awfully difficult for the Mets to let him walk out the door as a free agent.

Which prompts a couple of obvious questions:

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Sep 9, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway (36) in the dugout prior to the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports (Gregory Fisher)
Sep 9, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway (36) in the dugout prior to the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports (Gregory Fisher)

Do the Mets have a miracle finish in them? If ever there was a night to believe such a thing, this was it.

A bases-loaded double in the eighth-inning by a bit player like Rajai Davis, turning a 0-0 tie into a 3-0 win over the mighty Dodgers, was evidence in itself.

In truth, however, the belief should come from the machinations that put Davis up at the plate for the decisive at-bat.

Read More
Comments

Mets' Jeff McNeil
Mets' Jeff McNeil

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

A month ago a handful of the Mets' top scouts were watching a high school All-Star game at Long Beach State in California, the home field of one Jeff McNeil in college, and in that setting they couldn't help but marvel at the transformation of their former 12th-round draft pick.

"Jeff didn't hit a home run in his entire college career," Mets' scouting director Marc Tramuta said by phone, "so we're sitting there wondering if there has ever been a player with zero home runs in college who might hit 20 in a big-league season.

"Then the same bunch of us were texting about it when it happened (Wednesday night). It's crazy."

Tags: Daniel Murphy, Jeff McNeil, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Seth Lugo
Seth Lugo

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Jacob deGrom pushed himself a little closer to a second straight Cy Young Award with seven brilliant innings on Monday night, and yet there's a case to be made that he was the Mets' second-best pitcher in the 3-1 win against the Diamondbacks.

Seth Lugo was that good, retiring six straight hitters, four by strikeout.

"They didn't have a chance against him," was the way one scout who was at Citi Field described Lugo's outing on Tuesday. "For me, he was even more dominant than deGrom. It's two innings compared to seven, but he flat overmatched hitters with his mix of curveball and fastball.

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia, Seth Lugo, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Edwin Diaz
Edwin Diaz

Five weeks ago I was convinced that selling low on Edwin Diaz at the trade deadline would have been a mistake for the Mets, largely because the year-to-year volatility of relievers suggested that he could have a big bounce-back season in 2020.

However, I think there's a point where the scar tissue from big-stage failure supersedes more measurable factors, and that seems to apply to Diaz at this point, after his rock-bottom moment in Tuesday night's unfathomable loss to the Nationals.

Clearly he's not fixed, no matter what the Mets had been saying, mostly because he has zero command of his fastball, and that's not going to change over the final few weeks of this season.

Tags: Edwin Diaz, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Feb 14, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA;New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Feb 14, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA;New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

A month later it is harder to fault Brian Cashman for holding firm at the trade deadline, largely because none of the starting pitchers who were either available or traded have been particularly impressive since then. 

If anything, it is all the more intriguing to think about what might have been had the Giants not gotten hot in July, essentially taking Madison Bumgarner off the market. 

The 29-year old lefty, so famous for his past post-season heroics, has pitched very well even as the Giants' wild-card hopes have faded. While their record is 11-16 since the deadline, Bumgarner went 3-1 in August with a 3.17 ERA and a 0.865 WHIP. 

Read More
Comments

Aug 30, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) celebrates with right fielder Michael Conforto (30) after they both scored in the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports (James Lang)
Aug 30, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) celebrates with right fielder Michael Conforto (30) after they both scored in the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports (James Lang)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

By now, we know the 2019 Mets are nothing if not unpredictable.

So it's still possible, even after their six-game losing streak stalled much of their August momentum, that September will prove memorable for them.

But even if they fail to make another charge, it seems there is always drama around this team.

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Jacob deGrom, JD Davis, Jeff McNeil, Jose Reyes, Pete Alonso, Steven Matz, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Aug 30, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) celebrates with right fielder Michael Conforto (30) after they both scored in the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports (James Lang)
Aug 30, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) celebrates with right fielder Michael Conforto (30) after they both scored in the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports (James Lang)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

By now, we know the 2019 Mets are nothing if not unpredictable.

So it's still possible, even after their six-game losing streak stalled much of their August momentum, that September will prove memorable for them.

But even if they fail to make another charge, it seems there is always drama around this team.

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Jacob deGrom, JD Davis, Jeff McNeil, Jose Reyes, Pete Alonso, Steven Matz, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Aug 3, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees first baseman DJ LeMahieu (26) hits a three run home run against the Boston Red Sox during the fourth inning of game one of a doubleheader at Yankees Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Aug 3, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees first baseman DJ LeMahieu (26) hits a three run home run against the Boston Red Sox during the fourth inning of game one of a doubleheader at Yankees Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

The Yankees have already played their last big series of the season, taking down the Dodgers in LA last weekend, so there won't be much September suspense, at least not in terms of clinching their first AL East title since 2012. 

But their remarkable ability to overcome injuries continues to make this a compelling march to October, and indeed as the intrigue begins to build toward the postseason, there is no shortage of storylines surrounding this team.

Tags: CC Sabathia, Dellin Betances, Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino, John Harper
Read More
Comments


John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Marcus Stroman has talked a lot about how much he loves the big stage of New York, the pennant-race pressure, even describing himself as a "savage" on the mound. But until he delivers a big-game performance for the Mets, all that talk is meaningless.

Tuesday night offered him the perfect opportunity, his new team desperately needing Stroman to be a stopper in a must-win series against the Cubs, after they were swept by the Braves, yet he was so-so at best in a 5-2 loss at Citi Field.

Worst of all, he couldn't keep the ball in the ballpark.

Tags: Jeff McNeil, Juan Lagares, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Pete Alonso, Todd Frazier, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Mets' Jeff McNeil
Mets' Jeff McNeil

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

The beauty of Jeff McNeil is that he is as versatile defensively as he is wizard-like offensively, and with a huge series against the Cubs this week the Mets need to get creative in how they use him to help kick-start a suddenly sluggish offense.

For starters that means getting more left-handed hitters in the lineup against Yu Darvish in Tuesday's series opener, since the Cubs' righthander has been significantly more vulnerable to lefties than righties this season.

The most logical move is playing McNeil at third base, allowing Joe Panik to stay at 2B, and sitting the slumping Todd Frazier.

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil, Juan Lagares, Luis Guillorme, Michael Conforto, Robinson Cano, Todd Frazier, Yoenis Cespedes, John Harper
Read More
Comments

John Harper on Cubs/Mets series 00:01:01
SNY Baseball Analyst John Harper touches on the keys to this week's 3-game series between the Mets and Cubs.

After the Atlanta Braves swept the Mets over the weekend, New York hits the reset button as the Chicago Cubs come to Citi Field.

What do the Mets need to do to get back on track against the NL Wild Card-leading Cubs? SNY's John Harper previews the pivotal three-game series, which could come down to strong starting pitching and a key lineup change.

Tags: Chicago Cubs, Jeff McNeil, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Jul 19, 2019; San Francisco, CA, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) pitches against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports (Stan Szeto)
Jul 19, 2019; San Francisco, CA, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) pitches against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports (Stan Szeto)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

The number seemed symbolic somehow. For the first time since early May, Hyun-Jin Ryu's ERA started with a two rather than a one, thanks to the thumping the Yankees gave him on Friday night.

Barely two, that is, at in 2.00, but the jump in one game from 1.64 was significant, especially on a night when Jacob deGrom lowered his ERA to 2.56 and racked up 13 more strikeouts, raising his league-leading total to 207.

Bottom line, as hot as deGrom has been for several weeks, posting a 1.04 ERA since the All-Star break, it felt as if he still had quite a gap to close if he were going to pull off the spectacular feat of winning back-to-back Cy Young Awards.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Aug 21, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets left fielder J.D. Davis (28) celebrates with first baseman Pete Alonzo (20) and shortstop Amed Rosario (1) after hitting a game winning RBI single in the tenth inning to defeat the Cleveland Indians at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 21, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets left fielder J.D. Davis (28) celebrates with first baseman Pete Alonzo (20) and shortstop Amed Rosario (1) after hitting a game winning RBI single in the tenth inning to defeat the Cleveland Indians at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Most everything about the Mets' second-half run has been remarkable, but the emergence of J.D. Davis and Amed Rosario, in particular, has bulked up a youthful position-player core that suddenly gives this franchise an entirely different feel, both in the present and the future. 

Add that duo to Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto, and you can make the case the Mets have five cornerstone players, four of which are under contractual control at least through the 2023 season. 

And that's not counting Dom Smith, who probably looms now as a valuable off-season trade chip, or Brandon Nimmo, who figures to be an important player when he comes back from his neck injury, even if it's more for depth at this point. 

Tags: Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, Jacob deGrom, JD Davis, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Pete Alonso, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

It looked so easy for Aaron Judge, when he turned on a Joakim Soria fastball Tuesday night in Oakland and launched it 467 feet, that it seemed almost impossible to believe this was the first time all season he'd pulled a home run to left field.

That was my first thought and, it turned out, a fairly common reaction among baseball people I talked to on Wednesday.

As one long-time scout said, "It had gotten to the point where it was almost bizarre watching him swing like Derek Jeter this year."

Tags: Aaron Judge, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Jul 23, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Domingo German (55) pitches in the first inning against Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Rempel)
Jul 23, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Domingo German (55) pitches in the first inning against Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Rempel)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Late Wednesday afternoon I was talking to an executive from an American League team about the Yankees and their potential pitching plan for October, when he suggested I take a look at the box score of the Red Sox-Indians game that had been over for about an hour. 

"Boston used seven pitchers and won the game 5-1," the exec said. "Seven pitchers, one run. That's taking the 'opener' strategy to an extreme, but I wouldn't be surprised at all to see the Yankees try a formula like that in the postseason. 

Tags: CC Sabathia, Dellin Betances, Domingo German, J.A. Happ, Luis Severino, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Alonso vs. Tatis Jr. for NL ROY 00:00:47
New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso is leading for NL Rookie of the Year but SNY's John Harper explains what more he can do to clinch it

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

So just how many home runs does Pete Alonso need to hit this season to lock up the Rookie of the Year Award, anyway? You'd think 50 would leave no doubt, right?

Well, maybe not, judging by the support Fernando Tatis Jr. seems to be gaining.

Alonso has been the favorite from early in the season, thanks to his eye-opening home run power, but the Padres' 20-year old shortstop is making a big run, putting up impressive offensive numbers while earning raves for his defense practically on a daily basis.

Tags: Pete Alonso, John Harper
Read More
Comments

A feel-good weekend at Citi Field ended with a crashing thud on Sunday, not because the Mets lost the series finale to the Nationals so much as Edwin Diaz gave up still another home run, again raising the question of how this team, even as hot as it is, can survive its own bullpen. 

Mickey Callaway has already taken an important and necessary step toward a solution, making Seth Lugo at least the co-closer, using him as he did for two innings to finish out Saturday night's win.

But because the Mets are restricted in how much they can use Lugo, who has a partial tear in his elbow ligament, it's far from a perfect situation. 

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Seth Lugo, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Marcus Stroman
Marcus Stroman

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

These are giddy days for Mets' scouts, as the remarkable turnaround to this season is built largely around homegrown players, while their 2019 amateur draft received high grades from evaluators.

Indeed, the perception of the Mets' drafts over the last several years has improved dramatically, thanks to the recent emergence of Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Dom Smith, as well as Brandon Nimmo before his neck injury this season and the foundation-like presence of Michael Conforto in the middle of the lineup.

For that matter, VP of scouting Tommy Tanous says his department recently completed a study showing the Mets have produced more current big-league players, including some with other teams, than any organization in baseball since 2011.

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Marcus Stroman, Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Mar 15, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone (17) talk prior to the game against the Boston Red Sox at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Mar 15, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone (17) talk prior to the game against the Boston Red Sox at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

The last-minute Zack Greinke blockbuster aside, baseball's trade deadline was reminiscent of the winter meetings, as fans waited for the wheeling and dealing to begin in earnest. 

It's pretty clear that teams are more risk-averse than ever, the result of information overload throughout the sport and GMs who'd seemingly rather reveal family secrets than trade top prospects. 

The result was a yawner of a deadline, despite the supposed urgency that came with the rule change this year doing away with waiver trades, meaning that this was the one chance teams had to buy or sell. 

Tags: Clint Frazier, Dellin Betances, Luis Severino, Miguel Andujar, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Brodie Van Wagenen
Brodie Van Wagenen

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

The last-minute Zack Greinke blockbuster aside, baseball's trade deadline was reminiscent of the winter meetings, as fans waited for the wheeling and dealing to begin in earnest. 

It's pretty clear that teams are more risk-averse than ever, the result of information overload throughout the sport and GMs who'd seemingly rather reveal family secrets than trade top prospects. 

The result was a yawner of a deadline, despite the supposed urgency that came with the rule change this year doing away with waiver trades, meaning that this was the one chance teams had to buy or sell. 

Tags: Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Mets keep Zack and Thor 00:02:26
Doug Williams and Andy Martino react to the Mets moves at the MLB Trade Deadline, as the team kept Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard.

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

So Brodie decided to let it ride. Well, at this point, why not? 

Better to take a shot, longshot though it may be, at making a Wild Card run this season than dealing Zack Wheeler for a so-so return that offered limited potential of helping the Mets in the immediate future.

Tags: Jason Vargas, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Jul 19, 2019; Detroit, MI, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (6) pitches during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)
Jul 19, 2019; Detroit, MI, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (6) pitches during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

In a vacuum the Mets made a good trade on Sunday, acquiring Marcus Stroman for two pitching prospects, only one with a high ceiling, in a deal that could pay off in nicely in 2020. 

Of course, it's not as simple as that, for an organization that is already low on pitching prospects, with Zack Wheeler and Jason Vargas heading for free agency this winter. 

Tags: Jason Vargas, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Jul 25, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Jul 25, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

The way Jacob deGrom is blowing away hitters again, more and more you can't help but wonder if he may have cost himself a real shot at winning back-to-back Cy Young Awards with those three straight starts in April when he gave up 14 runs, in large part because he was tipping pitches.

As much as deGrom hates excuse-making, and blames himself for throwing "too many pitches down the middle" during that mini-slump, I got him on Thursday to acknowledge, sort of, anyway, that something funny was going on in those starts. 

Tags: Jacob deGrom, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Brodie Van Wagenen
Brodie Van Wagenen

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Not that there was any real doubt, but Robinson Cano's "I'm Not Done Yet" night at Citi Field on Tuesday was a pointed reminder the Mets will be trying to patch together and add to their flawed roster with the hope of trying to win again next season rather than rebuild.

Which raises an obvious question with the trade deadline a week away: what's the best way to improve for 2020?

Trading free agents-to-be Todd Frazier, Jason Vargas, and even Zack Wheeler won't bring back much in the way of difference-making talent for next season -- not with the way GMs hold tight to their best prospects these days, especially in deals for rental players.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Jason Vargas, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, Yoenis Cespedes, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
Read More
Comments

New York Mets first baseman Dominic Smith hits a solo home run against the Atlanta Braves during the third inning at Citi Field. (Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Mets first baseman Dominic Smith hits a solo home run against the Atlanta Braves during the third inning at Citi Field. (Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

First things first: I wouldn't trade Dominic Smith.

I love his bat and he's looking surprisingly comfortable in left field, to the point where I don't think he'd be a liability even as an everyday player in that spot. 

Tags: Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Sep 30, 2018; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (26) walks off the field after speaking with an umpire in the third inning against the Houston Astros at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports (Tommy Gilligan)
Sep 30, 2018; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (26) walks off the field after speaking with an umpire in the third inning against the Houston Astros at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports (Tommy Gilligan)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

After Travis d'Arnaud had stunned Aroldis Chapman and the Yankees on the greatest night of his baseball life, the type of night the Mets gave up on waiting for, Buck Showalter had an interesting take that served as a reminder he's available to manage next season. 

In Queens, perhaps? 

Read More
Comments

May 17, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano (24) reacts in the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)
May 17, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano (24) reacts in the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)

Now that Brodie Van Wagenen has made his concession speech, admitting that his "come get us" bravado resulted in "they came and got us," the Mets can officially move on to the brainstorming portion of the schedule.

That is, everything they do over the final two and a half months should be with a vision of 2020 and beyond in mind, rather than trying to squeeze the most possible wins out of a lost season. 

Mostly that means getting answers to as many questions about the future of this team as possible. I'd start with these 10: 

Tags: Amed Rosario, Anthony Kay, Dominic Smith, Jason Vargas, Jeff McNeil, Noah Syndergaard, Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, Seth Lugo, Todd Frazier, Wilson Ramos, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Jun 28, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) is congratulated after hitting a solo home run against the Atlanta Braves during the fourth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Jun 28, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) is congratulated after hitting a solo home run against the Atlanta Braves during the fourth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

In making calls for a Wilson Ramos column last week, I heard a comment from a scout that in some ways summed up Brodie Van Wagenen's misguided attempt at assembling a win-now team in his first attempt as a GM.

"The Mets need to figure out who they are," the scout said.

He explained that for a team that believed its strength was a dominant starting rotation, the Mets needed a defense-first catcher who could enhance the abilities of the starting pitchers -- not a defensive liability like Ramos.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Edwin Diaz, Jacob deGrom, Jason Vargas, Jeff McNeil, Jeurys Familia, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, Steven Matz, Todd Frazier, Wilson Ramos, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Jun 19, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu (26) and New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez (24) score in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Jun 19, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu (26) and New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez (24) score in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

It seems hard to believe now, with the Yankees on a pace to win 105 games, that they lost series to the Orioles, Tigers, and White Sox in getting off to a 6-9 start amidst fears that injuries might wreck their season before Memorial Day.

Since then they've gone a mere 51-22 to establish themselves as the best team in the American League, getting unexpected contributions from the Urshelas, Tauchmans and Maybins of the baseball world that have made this more of a feel-good season than seemed possible with such huge expectations.

As such, any midterm review has to start with GM Brian Cashman, who created all this depth and versatility, as well as the most formidable bullpen in baseball, partly by spreading the Yankee money around on the likes of D.J. Lemahieu, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton and others, rather than going all-in on Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.

Tags: Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Aroldis Chapman, Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier, Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, J.A. Happ, James Paxton, Luis Severino, Luke Voit, Miguel Andujar, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Jun 26, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) hits a single against the Toronto Blue Jays in the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
		
		 (Noah K. Murray)
Jun 26, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) hits a single against the Toronto Blue Jays in the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Back in March I picked the Yankees to win the World Series against the Nationals, and thanks largely to Max Scherzer's spectacular June, broken nose and all, I've still got a chance to be right on both ends, as the Nats have come storming back from the dead.

In truth, as the season reaches the All-Star break, a Yankees-Dodgers World Series looks more realistic, and that would be great for baseball -- two glamorous franchises renewing October hostilities for the first time since 1981.

Tags: Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Noah Syndergaard, Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Jun 20, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) celebrates with second baseman Jeff McNeil (6) after hitting two run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the third inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports (Kamil Krzaczynski)
Jun 20, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) celebrates with second baseman Jeff McNeil (6) after hitting two run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the third inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports (Kamil Krzaczynski)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Back in March I picked the Yankees to win the World Series against the Nationals, and thanks largely to Max Scherzer's spectacular June, broken nose and all, I've still got a chance to be right on both ends, as the Nats have come storming back from the dead.

In truth, as the season reaches the All-Star break, a Yankees-Dodgers World Series looks more realistic, and that would be great for baseball -- two glamorous franchises renewing October hostilities for the first time since 1981.

Tags: Aaron Judge, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, John Harper
Read More
Comments

New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler pitches against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Citi Field. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler pitches against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Citi Field. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

If the Mets decide to trade Zack Wheeler in the coming weeks, which seems very possible, they'd want to make a deal similar to the one when they acquired him originally, back in July 2011 for free agent-to-be Carlos Beltran.

Tags: Zack Wheeler, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Jun 8, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets catcher Wilson Ramos (40) in the dugout prior to the game against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports (Gregory Fisher)
Jun 8, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets catcher Wilson Ramos (40) in the dugout prior to the game against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports (Gregory Fisher)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

The Mets might be prepared to deal Zack Wheeler this month, but their priority at the trade deadline ought to be trying to undo their mistake of signing Wilson Ramos last winter by finding a team that will take him off their hands.

Ramos has been worse than expected defensively, more immobile than the Mets imagined when they signed him to a two-year, $19 million contract after first trying to trade for J.T. Realmuto, and then deeming free agent Yasmani Grandal too expensive.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Wilson Ramos, John Harper
Read More
Comments

May 1, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Edwin Diaz (39) reacts after giving up a home run in the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports  (Noah K. Murray)
May 1, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Edwin Diaz (39) reacts after giving up a home run in the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

The two worst pitches Edwin Diaz threw in his ninth-inning meltdown on Thursday were 0-2 fastballs that missed their intended location badly, leading to a home run and a double by Maikel Franco and Scott Kingery, respectively.

In some ways that glaring absence of fastball command seemed to sum up the saga of Diaz, a phenomenal young closer for the 2018 Mariners who has been anything but automatic in his first year with the Mets.

Tags: Edwin Diaz, John Harper
Read More
Comments

 (Adam Hunger)
(Adam Hunger)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

You can hear it in Brian Cashman's voice. He feels as if he has been defending his belief in Gary Sanchez forever, going all the way back to the day 10 years ago when the Yankees signed him as a chubby 16-year old.

So the GM can get a little worked up if you ask about his catcher, especially these days as Sanchez has rebounded from his sub-par 2018 season in a big way, sitting second in the American League in home runs and playing defense at an All-Star level.

Best catcher in baseball? Cashman reaches to find even higher praise, in a general sense, invoking the "U" word that in recent years was more commonly associated with one Kristaps Porzingis.

Tags: Gary Sanchez, John Harper
Read More
Comments

May 21, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano (24) watches play against the Washington Nationals from the dugout at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
May 21, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano (24) watches play against the Washington Nationals from the dugout at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

As bad as it got for the Mets on Monday, a night when they desperately needed to change the Mickey Callaway conversation, the outcome against the Phillies might have been different if they weren't so stubborn about hitting Robinson Cano third in the lineup.

In truth, based strictly on performance, Cano shouldn't be playing at all, considering the Mets have a guy hitting .339 whose natural position is second base.

If only management trusted what it had seen from Jeff McNeil over three months last year, then maybe the Mets wouldn't be in this bind, hoping against hope that Cano isn't as over-the-hill as he has looked so far in 2019.

Tags: Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, John Harper
Read More
Comments

New York City, NY, USA; General view of Citi Field between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
New York City, NY, USA; General view of Citi Field between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

It sounds new and innovative. In addition to a newly promoted pitching coach and a bullpen coach, the Mets have added a "pitching strategist," to quote Brodie Van Wagenen, to individualize game plans every day for every pitcher, based on the latest in analytical trends and information.

However, according to multiple sources, it's not really all that new either in baseball or the Mets' organization. 

Two sources, in fact, said that previous pitching coaches Dan Warthen and Rick Peterson, whose tenures spanned the period of 2003-2017, both did such work, using video and analytics, as part of their job. 

Read More
Comments

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

The public obsession with adding an elite starting pitcher isn't going away until a deal gets done at some point, but it shouldn't overshadow the magnificence of what the Yankees are doing these days, playing at a remarkably high level in all areas of the game. 

Consider that while winning six straight games they've outscored their opponents by a whopping 47-17, with the last four of those games against the Rays and the Astros. 

And to think, Giancarlo Stanton has barely been a factor yet since returning earlier this week, and now Aaron Judge is back as well, beginning Friday night. That plus newly-acquired Edwin Encarnacion riding shotgun for the big boys and, oh by the way, Gary Sanchez slugging at an MVP-level once again.

Tags: Aaron Judge, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, John Harper
Read More
Comments

New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom pitches during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. (Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom pitches during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. (Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

After an ugly loss in which their all-too obvious flaws were exposed, the Mets suddenly find themselves 8.5 games behind the streaking Braves, and perhaps on the precipice of another lost season.

In June. Again.

Last year they went 5-21 in June to make the rest of the season feel more like an exercise in garbage time. This month hasn't spun out of control quite yet, as the Mets are 6-9 as of Tuesday. But at 34-38 they are only a few games better than their record at this time last year.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Wilson Ramos, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Brodie Van Wagenen (Matthew Cerrone, MetsBlog.com)
Brodie Van Wagenen (Matthew Cerrone, MetsBlog.com)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

During the offseason, the Braves were the least active of the presumed four NL East contenders, seemingly to their detriment. In short, it seemed they lost the winter.

Except that doesn't matter so much considering they the best young talent in the division, including May call-up Austin Riley, Atlanta's version of Pete Alonso as a difference-making rookie slugger.

Also, when they save your best move for June, signing Dallas Keuchel to bolster the starting rotation.

Tags: Anthony Swarzak, Atlanta Braves, Bryce Harper, Dominic Smith, Edwin Diaz, Jacob deGrom, Jason Vargas, Jeurys Familia, Noah Syndergaard, Pete Alonso, Philadelphia Phillies, Robinson Cano, Washington Nationals, Wilson Ramos, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Mar 17, 2019; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Ryley Gilliam (81) delivers a pitch in the eight inning of a spring training game against the Washington Nationals at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports (Sam Navarro)
Mar 17, 2019; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Ryley Gilliam (81) delivers a pitch in the eight inning of a spring training game against the Washington Nationals at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports (Sam Navarro)

The starting rotation, healthy and being pushed to pitch deeper into games lately, still offers the possibility of carrying the Mets toward serious contention. No matter what, though, the bullpen isn't deep enough, even presuming that Edwin Diaz gets his act together.

And somehow Brodie Van Wagenen needs to reinforce it.

Making a trade is the most obvious way, but there will be a limited number of quality relievers on the market, and the Mets' farm system is thin on top prospects, in part because Van Wagenen included Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn in the Diaz/Robinson Cano trade last fall.

Read More
Comments

San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees in the second inning at Oracle Park. (Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports)
San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees in the second inning at Oracle Park. (Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Only a few days after refusing to budge on Dallas Keuchel's asking price, Yankees brass had to recoil in horror watching James Paxton get lit up in the Subway Series, as a troubling question hovers over an otherwise feel-good season in the Bronx.

That is, does this team have an ace?

Paxton's left knee problem, which cost him three weeks on the Injured List, seems to be impacting the quality of his stuff, judging by his performance Tuesday night.

Tags: James Paxton, John Harper
Read More
Comments

A general view of New York Yankees batting practice prior to the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
A general view of New York Yankees batting practice prior to the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Baseball scouts are always going to have difference of opinion on amateur players, particularly at the high school level where so much of evaluation is about projecting what a kid will be in 5-10 years. But rarely is the difference as wide as it seems to be in the case of Yankees' first-round draft pick Anthony Volpe

Some scouts, as Yankees' scouting director Damon Oppenheimer noted on a conference call this week, see Volpe, a New Jersey high school shortstop, developing into an Alex Bregman or Trevor Story-type impact player in the big leagues. 

Two New Jersey-based scouts, meanwhile, told me that while they love Volpe's baseball instincts and his "hard-nosed" style of play, they don't see high-ceiling skills that teams usually look for in first-round draft picks.

Read More
Comments

Mets first-round pick Brett Baty at 2019 MLB Draft. (Mark Flamini/SNY)
Mets first-round pick Brett Baty at 2019 MLB Draft. (Mark Flamini/SNY)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

It was after midnight when a long-time scout of amateur talent finally had a couple of minutes to get on the phone, as the first day of the MLB Draft was coming to conclusion. I wanted to talk to this guy because it was only a few days ago that he had touted Brett Baty as one of a few players he was hoping his team would select. 

"He's about as dynamic a hitter as I can remember seeing when you consider his combination of power and pure hitting ability," the scout told me then. "I think he'll be there and he'd be a great get."

Turned out Baty wasn't there when that scout's team picked, because the Mets grabbed the lefty-slugging high school third baseman from Texas with the 12th pick Monday night. 

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, Edwin Diaz, Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, John Harper
Read More
Comments

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Amidst the wreckage of Wednesday night's devastating defeat for the Mets, Pete Alonso had a spectacular night in Los Angeles, as his two home runs tied him with Mark McGwire at 19 for the most ever by a rookie before June 1.

Oh by the way, Dom Smith raised his batting average to .370 with a 3-for-5 night in his first start in left field.

Make no mistake, there is no dilemma here, at least as it applies to first base: Alonso is the real thing and should be the Mets' middle-of-the-lineup slugger for the next decade or so. He has a chance, if healthy, to someday surpass Darryl Strawberry as their all-time home run leader.

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, John Harper
Read More
Comments

If you want a reason to believe the Mets have a big run in them over the next few months, I'm here to tell you that nobody in the majors has a better No. 4 starter than Steven Matz right now.

I know, I know, that won't mean much if Nos. 1, 2 and 3 don't raise their games to meet expectations of dominance, but presuming that Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler's best days are ahead of them this season, Matz's success could indeed prove meaningful.

In any case, the point is: Who saw this coming, anyway?

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
Read More
Comments

Feb 3, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Former MLB pitcher David Cone sits court side during the game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center. Indiana Pacers won 114-100. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
		
		 (Anthony Gruppuso)
Feb 3, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Former MLB pitcher David Cone sits court side during the game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center. Indiana Pacers won 114-100. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports (Anthony Gruppuso)

It's no surprise that David Cone has become a great listen as a Yankees broadcaster. He is unique in his ability to translate analytical data -- the language of modern baseball -- in a way the average fan can appreciate, and still relish the telling of anecdotes about the human side of the game, often in self-deprecating style.

For much the same reason, Cone was a delight to cover as a player throughout his career. Indeed, he was a thinkinman's pitcher who offered great insight into his craft, but also a player with a rebellious streak who challenged authority at times, enjoyed speaking his mind, and believed a pro athlete should be accountable publicly in good times and bad.

Even if that once meant having to explain how he rather famously allowed two runs to score while arguing with an umpire about a call at first base. Yep, there was Cone at his locker that night in Atlanta some 30 years ago, sheepish grin and all, owning up to his brainlock.

Read More
Comments