I know you all are tied of Jack Morris stuff. The arguments and all of that. But I implore you — strongly — to make room in your day for this Baseball Prospectus post from John Bernhardt. It’s long — like, really long — but it’s worth it. It’s worth it for two reasons.
First, as a piece of analysis it’s definitive. John looks fairly at both the traditionalist arguments for Morris and the sabermetric arguments against him. Rather than join the argument in the middle as so many of us do now because of their familiarity and in the interests of time, John takes it all as a whole as though approaching it for the first time. This makes it the perfect piece to send to your friends who haven’t thought as much about it all as you have.
The second, and I would argue, more important reason: it’s just a beautiful piece of prose. While John’s leanings regarding the merits of Morris are clear, he does not throw numbers at you all willy-nilly as has become the style in some sabermetric-leaning circles. He tells a story. An entertaining one and a convincing one. And it’s good reading even if you don’t much like the substance. Indeed, there is a long portion of it analyzing Lonnie Smith’s base running blunder in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series that I greatly enjoyed even though it broke down one of the most excruciating plays in my baseball-watching life in excruciating detail. Good writing can make you endure almost anything, and John’s writing is that good.
Eventually, John winds up here:
Whatever the reason, Morris is now a test case to see if a candidate with a strong enough narrative, no matter how groundless, imaginary, or overblown it might be, can make the Hall simply because his supporters repeated it so often and so loudly that one morning the world woke up and found it was true.
I can’t dispute any of that. And even those who may want to dispute it will be better for having read John’s piece before doing so.
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.