May 03

Mejia to have Tommy John surgery; must figure the worst.

Jenrry Mejia is seeking a second opinion on his medial collateral ligament, as is his right, but don’t bet the new doctor will offer a better alternative than Tommy John surgery. And, regardless of whom performs the surgery, the Mets can’t think all will be well in a year.

The Mets must continue on without Mejia in their plans, and although there are examples of pitchers who have come back from the surgery, there are similar examples of those who did not. Subsequently, the Mets must conduct business without Mejia in their plans and consider anything out of him in the future as a bonus.

The Mets eschewed an opportunity last season to deal Mejia, and the thinking at the time was sound. He was too good a prospect to just deal. I thought the Mets handled Mejia poorly last year in juggling his role, and it is speculation as to how much that contributed to the injury.

MEJIA: Mets must figure he's done.

It will be at least a year before we know whether Mejia will be sound enough to pitch, and even then there’s no guarantee he’ll be a hot prospect again.

There are examples on both sides of the aisle, of those who returned to have successful careers, and those who didn’t.

There’s no way of knowing where Mejia will be, but this much is sure, the Mets will be seeking pitching. The question is: How much are they willing to spend, both in prospects in the trade route and dollars in the free agency path next winter? The Mets must consider anything they get from Mejia as a bonus and look to build without him.

These pitchers made it back from Tommy John surgery: Josh Johnson, John Smoltz, Billy Wagner, David Wells, Tim Hudson, Mariano Rivera, Francisco Liriano and Chris Carpenter. And, of course, Tommy John.

These pitchers didn’t make it back: Kerry Wood (although he had a good season last year as reliever for the Yankees), Scott Williamson, Pat Hentgen, B.J. Ryan, Darren Driefort, Kris Benson, Phil Humber, Jaret Wright, Mike Hampton and Bill Pulsipher.

There is a wide enough sampling where it can go either way with Mejia, but we won’t know for at least a year, and there’s no telling what the Mets’ financial landscape will look like by then.


May 02

Mets win, NY wins, US wins.

I woke up around 6 , turned on the TV and he was still dead.

The flag endures.

Osama bin Laden is dead, and it will be one of those moments that  you’ll always remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news. For those who learned on ESPN last night, it was reminiscent of hearing John Lennon was murdered while watching Monday Football.

I was home channel surfing when I heard. I called a few friends and became mesmerized by the images on the screen. Just like when watching the Japan earthquake, Katrina, Columbine, and, of course, September 11. There is no script to history. It just relentless attacks us and grabs us by the scruff of the neck and shakes. It shook me to about 4 in the morning.

Flipping back to the Mets game, where it was tied in the ninth, 1-1 — 9-1-1. You don’t find irony or symbolism like that too often. It was  inspiring to hear the crowd spontaneously chanting, U-S-A, U-S-A. Sometimes the chant sounds forced and cliche. Not last night.

“I don’t like to give Philadelphia fans too much credit. But they got this one right,” said David Wright when asked about the chanting.

Yes, the Mets won, but the crowd reaction is what we’ll remember and take with us, much as we do the images of that day.

I was covering the Yankees at the time and took the weekend off to move to New York from Maryland. I was on the Jersey Turnpike just north of the Philadelphia exit when the planes hit the towers. Because all the bridges were closed what was normally a five-hour trip became 11. My movers were volunteer firefighters. My furniture didn’t arrive for several more days.

That week was spent covering workouts at Yankee Stadium and watching the Shea Stadium parking lot used for a staging ground for the EMS workers. It was inspiring to see Bobby Valentine and his Mets, in uniform, help the workers load trucks.

And, when the games finally resumed, we witnessed one of the most memorable home runs in New York history, Mike Piazza’s drive that beat the Braves. The Mets and Braves were mortal enemies at the time, and their display of unity that night was another memory. It was another example of how sports can be unifying.

So much has happened in the ten years since, and we’ve changed personally and as a nation in so many ways, and for a baseball writer it goes well beyond the joys of traveling, from the pat downs to the long lines to the general uneasiness of strangers.

I live in a small town in Connecticut, and the fallout hits here, too.

What small town doesn’t have a 9-1-1 Memorial? Who among us doesn’t know someone lost in the attacks and the subsequent military actions in the Middle East? The failing economy is a byproduct of that day, and with it the foreclosure signs, layoffs and stress of trying to make ends meet. Who among us doesn’t cringe when filling up our tanks and wonder when things will ever get back to normal.

Or, is this normal?

I hope you’ll share with us what you were doing that day.

May 01

Mets performed as expected in April.

Where did that winning streak go? It was here a moment ago. Instead, it has morphed into a three-game losing skid, which could reach four tonight against Cliff Lee, and keep going when the San Francisco Giants come to town this week.

The Mets closed April at 11-16 and in last place in the NL East, about what most people expected from them. But what most counted on was win two, lose three. Nobody expected the Mets to be as streaky to the extreme as they have been. Losing this way is more frustrating because it preys on your frustrations and fears.

The pitching is going to dictate the Mets’ success this year, and that didn’t disappoint in April, where it was poor for most of the month save a week stretch in which it transformed the Mets into a representative baseball team. The key was Mike Pelfrey, who regressed from last summer. There were occasional bright starts, but for the most part the rotation remains a source of concern, as does the bullpen, which has proven to be highly combustible when overworked.

There’s nobody in the rotation that you feel confident will take you to the seventh. Jon Niese was solid yesterday against Roy Halladay, but who can’t see him bailing after four in his next start.

Pedro Beato and Jason Isringhausen have been dependable. Francisco Rodriguez is still a tight rope act. Bobby Parnell was supposed to be the eighth inning answer, but we don’t know much of his failures are talent or injury related. The remainder of the pen is a hold-your-breath propostion.

Offensively, Daniel Murphy has been solid and Carlos Beltran has performed more, and probably better than expected. Ike Davis has taken a positive step and Jason Bay has played well since coming off the disabled list.

David Wright still strikes out too much for me and is not dependable in the clutch. I still want Jose Reyes to strike out less and walk more.

There are days when the offense can be daunting, yet others when it is puzzling. That pretty much describes the Mets as a whole, which hasn’t been a surprise.