With the MLB season still on hiatus, let's dip into the mailbag...
Anthony C in Hoboken via text: Is there any chance the Mets bring back Matt Harvey to replace Noah Syndergaard in the rotation? Say yes
I would love to see Harvey come home, but in no way can he be guaranteed a role. He'll need to earn his way into the rotation (or bullpen). If he could do it, and do it with hunger and focus, it would be an incredible redemption story and something that would captivate baseball and Mets fans.
I realize things did not end well between the Mets and Harvey, who had all sorts of physical and other issues before and after he left New York. Aside from thoracic outlet syndrome, his struggles likely stemmed from the pressure put on himself to be not just successful but a massive, superstar success, which he briefly had and lost.
And, regardless of the fleeting fame and money and experience he is fortunate to have had, it must still be difficult to wake up every morning knowing it is gone. If Harvey has shaken that experience and replaced it with a new fire and motivation, I say bring him home!
Remember, it was Sandy Alderson that had to deal with Harvey -- not Brodie Van Wagenen. Van Wagenen likes big names and big storylines and Harvey is and can be both, so it's possible Brodie has a different feel for Harvey than the previous front office.
Also, Van Wagenen's front office includes advisor Omar Minaya, who was GM in 2010 when Harvey was drafted by the Mets. Fred Wilpon also has a long history of welcoming back players, even those that left on a sour note.
It takes two to tango, though. And, while Harvey is not in the position to be picky about where and for what he signs as a free agent, my hunch is he -- more than anyone -- would be hesitant to return to New York.
Maureen via text: Is this the end of Noah Syndergaard's time with the Mets?
Syndergaard will likely return at some point in 2021, though there is usually a delay in most Tommy John rehabs that pushes it a bit further out. But, barring many complications, he will again suit up in a Mets uniform.
However, the surgery almost certainly crushes any chance of inking Syndergaard to a contract extension before he hits free agency. This increases the chance he signs with a new team.
That said, all of the above is putting the cart before the horse. Between the delay of this season, the handling of his surgery in the midst of what is happening in hospitals right now, plus the rehab, return date, free agent market, and any adjustment in team budget depending on any ownership change, there are many things unknown when trying to project Syndergaard's future.
Richard L from Florida via text: Do you really think Andres Gimenez could make his MLB debut this season? He at least needs time at Triple A and I don't see how he fits in with Jed Lowrie on the team
These are all fair points, but all could realistically get out of his way.
The caveat here, as it will be for probably every answer, is that we don't know how the minor leagues (like the major leagues) will be impacted by the delayed start of the season.
Had baseball gotten off to a regular open, Gimenez would likely have either started the season at or quickly been promoted to Triple-A Syracuse. And, I think we all know Lowrie can't be counted on.
Gimenez is far from a slam dunk, but continues to be universally praised for his glove, arm, quick feet and ability to make contact and put the ball in play. In this sense, he'd likely be a perfect replacement, especially for Amed Rosario. Whether starting or getting sporadic play, I wouldn't expect a high average or any pop -- that's not really his game. I've always felt his ceiling is more Omar Vizquel than the modern day infielder, though more realistically he's in line with someone like Cesar Hernandez.
"I don't think he'll have any trouble finding 20 doubles and 20 stolen bases in his first season or two with the Mets," a veteran NL scout told me this past winter. "He could use another year of development, though, and they should get him more work at second base."
Nineteen-year-old SS Ronny Mauricio is the real potential star, but he's at least one-to-two years away.
Timothy T via e-mail: He wasn't looking great during spring training, so how can the Mets think Edwin Diaz has any chance of getting back to the pitcher he was with the Mariners?
I had hope, but -- you're right -- no one should be inspired by his work in Florida during March. Thankfully, until Diaz can hopefully get his act together, the Mets can turn to Seth Lugo and Dellin Betances to pick up the slack.
The worry here, though, is that Betances (who is returning from injury) and Lugo (who is very, very important to this team's possible success) could get burned out early and slump a tad later in the season.
In regards to Diaz, toward the end of last season, then-pitching coach Phil Regan got him to grip his sinker/slider the same way as Jacob deGrom, which helped Diaz get more swings and misses. So, we know he can adjust -- it's in him to do it. In addition, new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and bullpen coach Ricky Bones have said they spent a lot of time this past winter studying Diaz to find ways that could help him improve in 2020.
As is often the case for pitchers, regardless of if they're a reliever or starter, it sometimes takes settling into a regular-season routine and getting a feel for what is and isn't working in real games before pitching to their potential. Or, Diaz is again going to be a mess.
However, I still have faith he can turn it around. He's got a better understanding of life in New York and the pressure that is on him to perform in this city, he's got a good support system, a number of experienced mentors, and clearly has the talent to regain his former glory.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is a senior writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. His book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime.