A few minutes ago, Mets manager Terry Collins was a guest of Mike Francesa on WFAN. Here are the highlights of what Collins had to say, with Rising Apple’s analysis where its merited:
On piecing the rotation together considering there are so many question marks:
On a daily basis, what we’ve got to do is make sure our guys prepare and make pitches…Aaron Laffey I think is gonna get more comfortable with more outings.
…there’s not much Terry can really say here. He knows that the rotation is impossibly thin beyond their top three. Collins mentioned recently that Laffey would be “the guy” until Shaun Marcum returns. While he again expressed confidence in Laffey, I’m glad he didn’t repeat his refrain that Laffey would be “the guy.” He should be evaluated on a start to start basis.
On whether Matt Harvey can be what Clayton Kershaw or Stephen Strasburg is:
There’s no reason why he cannot. I think it all started with what he did the other night (Monday) here in Philly…he didn’t even have his best stuff and gave up three hits. There’s no reason why this guy can’t step forward and certainly be one of the dominant pitchers in the National League.
The Harvey question was parlayed into a remark about Zack Wheeler by Collins without prodding:
We’re hoping with what we’re hearing about Zack Wheeler, a few more starts if we get Zack Wheeler here, we might have two really dominant guys in our rotation. Due to the injury he had in spring training, I don’t think he got the amount of innings he should’ve had to leave spring training. So I’m not sure his command is where he wants it. One of the things we do know he can do very well, he’s one of those guys who can…throw 90 pitches in eight innings. We’ve just gotta have patience and let him get his feet wet in Las Vegas.
…after those comments, Francesa told Collins that the Mets needed Wheeler here “now,” but Collins said they’d have to wait a little longer. I’ve watched both of Wheeler’s AAA starts, and he’s certainly been off. He simply couldn’t locate anything during his first start, but last night was a huge improvement. Although he gave up eight hits and four runs (one earned), his command was much better. His fastball sat around 97 MPH and his secondary stuff was filthy at times. Wheeler obviously won’t be called up until April 20th passes (and the Mets secure an extra year of team control). However, it’s reasonable to expect Wheeler to arrive in Flushing soon after April 20th as long as the Mets like what they see from him in Vegas.
On whether something is wrong with Ruben Tejada:
I talked with Ruben the other day. He’s the kind of player we like here. ..he has not played well. I told him he needs to step it up here, that he needs to get himself better prepared before a game starts. Go back to being the kind of hitter we know he can be…the other night here in Philly he came up in a big situation…and drove in two extra runs for us…he has (let some balls play him) but nothing to worry about.
On Collin Cowgill’s early season struggles:
He’s starting to over-swing a little bit and chasing balls he doesn’t normally chase. We told him last night, ‘go back to being that guy you were in spring training.’
On Ike Davis’ slow start:
Yesterday, he came out and took extra batting practice…we tried to get him a little closer to the plate to take that outside pitch away…he might be (pressing). I just keep telling him to stay within his game…get some base hits, you’re gonna end up getting some balls you can handle once they know you can hit that outside pitch.
…It did appear as if Davis was standing too far from the dish, so it’s good to hear that he’s working on moving closer to the plate. Aside from waving at the outside pitch, Davis has a habit of watching pitches just off the outside corner for strike three. Hopefully moving closer to the plate helps alleviate his problems with the outside pitch.
How does he feel about the bullpen?
I really like the way three or four of the guys have really jumped out. [Brandon] Lyon has thrown the ball well, [LaTroy] Hawkins is getting a better feel for it, [Scott] Atchison has been very good. I kind like where we’re at, but it’s all about your starting pitching getting you deep into games where you can get the matchups you want.
On the team expecting to win when Matt Harvey goes to the mound:
That was brought up by some of the guys…he’s got power stuff, he gets some bad swings on some pitches. Our guys believe that this guy is gonna keep them in games…this guy has great makeup, great confidence in his ability. It’s not one of those boasting egos. This guy just believes in what he can do…this guy demands a lot of himself. He is gonna be some kind of competitor. One of the things we don’t want to do is have to shut him down at the end of the season…if we mind the pitch counts and don’t overwork him, he’s gonna stay healthy and he’s gonna stay strong. He’s got A stuff. He came in after Johan [Santana] was hurt and said ‘I’m ready to start Opening Day.’
…there’s not much more one can really say about Harvey at this point. He appears to be the complete package. Collins noted that the Mets would probably limit Harvey to around 210 innings this season, and that they planned on keeping him active through the end of the season by pulling him from games he’s dominating (for example, in the seventh inning of a Mets blowout) in order to curtail the amount of innings he throws.