I feel like I’m knocking on heaven’s door: The Mets are going to control pitcher Zack Wheeler’s salary for as long as they can, wich means Mets fans will have to endure another month of Jeremy Hefner starting every fifth day. Apparently, the Mets figure if two months of Marlon Byrd hasn’t driven their fan base to the Yankees, another month of Hefner won’t. Wheeler is the former first-round pick of the Giants who came to New York for two months of Carlos Beltran in 2011. Wheeler has a 3.74 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 43.1 innings at AAA, but the Mets can defer arbitration for a year if they wait to recall him for another month. When you’re 14-21 and held up only by the Marlins, another month won’t hurt anything but interested fans. Who, if they’re still interested, aren’t going anywhere.
What is this man doing here? You know you’re not going to to have a long career when you’re a 31-year-old rookie. That’s Mets reliever Scott Rice, who’s been released three times and signed as a free agent eight times. The Mets are that lucky eighth organization, and probably nowhere near Rice’s last; someday they might be the team he pitched for in the middle of his career. Give Rice points for perseverance, but perseverance won’t get major-league hitters out. It’s doubtful Rice will either. He has a career 4.08 minor-league ERA and has walked little less than a batter every other inning; in his first 18 big-league innings, he’s walked 12 more. He’s playing for the major-league minimum and sometimes you really do get what you pay for.
What he said: Manager Terry Collins on Ike Davis, batting .175, hitting cleanup: “We’ll have a lot more answers by the end of the week.” What he meant: “That should be all the time we need to find someone better.”
Outlook: This is the sixth season since the Mets made like the Toronto Maple Leafs and lost a seven-game lead with 17 games to play. The good news is that the only seven-game lead the Mets will have this year is over the Marlins.
Which begs the question of how long the Mets can blame Bernie Madoff and Jose Reyes for their current woes. They haven’t topped 80 wins in the last four seasons and won’t this year; they apparently won’t be better than the Braves or Nats for the next half-decade; and how long can they count on the Marlins to be the bottom step of the NL East?
The Mets are bad in a town where bad doesn’t sell. If the Yankees are Manhattan, the Mets are Staten Island, and wondering why the ferry only seems to run one direction.
The Mets are 21st in runs scored and 26th in ERA; not surprisingly they have MLB’s 26th-best record, which they only hope will improve with the advent of their farm system, ranked 12th by minorleagueball.com.
Mets fans are so desperate they’ve taken to comparing 24-year-old pitcher Matt Harvey to Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. Harvey has been that good — 27 hits in 56.1 innings, league-leading 1.44 ERA, 62 strikeouts to 14 walks — but why not compare him to Dwight Gooden, who was better than both Harvey and Seaver at a younger age?
That’s what we thought. Of course, if Harvey’s career mirrors Gooden’s it’ll still be better than the most-recent ballyhooed Mets’ young pitchers — the mid-1990s Generation K of Jason Isringhausen, Bill Pulsipher and Paul Wilson. They combined for 104 career wins, and only 31 of those for the Mets. Mets fans will be disappointed if Harvey doesn’t double the latter total by his first big contract.
The plan, if there is one, is to pair Harvey with Wheeler at the top of the rotation, and put a team behind them that includes catcher Travis D’Arnaud (part of the package for R.A. Dickey), forever infield prospect Wilmer Flores (at age 21, in his sixth minor league season, Flores has already reached AAA) and shortstop Ruben Tejada.
Apparently, the Mets are going to go King and His Court with the outfield, because they don’t have much of one. Mets outfielders entered play Monday with a .222 average and .299 on-base percentage, according to espn.com, or so bad that they thought signing free agent Rick Ankiel would help. Given Ankiel’s .194 average and .231 on-base percentage with the Astros, it’s not likely.
Not much will help the Mets this year, but for wishing and rationalizing.
Team song: Steely Dan: The Royal Scam
Trivia answer: Astros reliever Wesley Wright is the only major leaguer today with the initials W.W.