Schneider jumps from Mets to hometown Phillies

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Brian Schneider has been a starter for basically his entire career, but the 33-year-old catcher will now back up Carlos Ruiz after signing a two-year contract with the Phillies this afternoon.
While one Philadelphia newspaper suggests that Schneider passed up a chance to start for several other teams in order to join his hometown Phillies, that seems fairly unlikely. Instead, my guess is that the best he could do elsewhere was a promise that he’d compete for a starting job with a younger catcher and rather than do that for a lesser team he decided to join the back-to-back NL champs and the team he grew up rooting for.
After all, Ruiz has started 100, 92, and 100 games in the past three seasons, is coming off a career-best .255/.355/.425 performance in the regular season, and batted .341 in the playoffs, so the Phillies probably aren’t looking to reduce his role. Instead, expect the left-handed-hitting Schneider to draw 40-50 starts while primarily giving the right-handed-hitting Ruiz breaks against tougher right-handed pitchers. It should be an effective quasi-platoon.
Philadelphia definitely didn’t need a veteran backup like Schneider, but the Phillies are strong enough up and down the roster that tinkering at the margins while paying a premium for depth makes sense. Meanwhile, the Mets never had any intention of re-signing Schneider and interestingly are close to signing Chris Coste, who spent most of the past four seasons backing up Ruiz for the Phillies. Musical catchers. New York is also said to be in the mix for Henry Blanco, and still has Omar Santos and Josh Thole as in-house options.

Mets to move Matt Harvey to the bullpen

Matt Harvey
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Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.

It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.

At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”

Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.