Jun 20

Johan Santana Gives Mets Sigh Of Relief

After he was roughed up in the two starts following his 134-pitch no-hitter, there was worry again something might be wrong with Johan Santana’s surgically-repaired left shoulder.

SANTANA: Strong again.

Six scoreless innings last night against the Orioles eased those concerns. Not entirely, because can you ever be certain about a shoulder, but there’s a good feeling about the tandem of him and R.A. Dickey.

Every game has a moment of decision for a pitcher, and Santana’s came in the fourth when the Orioles had runners on second and third with one out. Santana responded by striking out the next two hitters.

The Mets have thrown consecutive shutouts three times this season and lead the majors with eight overall.

In addition to Santana, the Mets continued to receive positive offensive news, from an expected source and a surprise.

Lucas Duda homered again and Jordany Valdespin added a two-run single while demonstrating his versatility. Last night he was in left; the night before at second.

And, maybe the biggest plus was getting three scoreless innings from what has been an erratic bullpen. Terry Collins is going back to handling Santana with kid gloves after the no-hitter, which translates into more innings from the pen.

Jun 19

What Are The Odds That Jason Bay Is Still With The Mets In 2013?

The hits just keep on coming for Jason Bay, and not in a good way. Yesterday, Terry Collins spoke to reporters before the game and said, “I’m really worried about him”. Bay will be seeing a doctor today and the team will learn if he indeed suffered another concussion, his second in two years. When asked about the possibility of Bay missing the rest of the season, Collins responded, “anything’s possible.”

For now Bay is on the 7-day disabled list, but there is a strong possibility that he may have played his final game of the season. You may recall that Bay missed the final two months of 2010 after suffering his first concussion. A second concussion could keep him out longer than that and the Mets will make sure he doesn’t return until he becomes 100% symptom free.

It’s been one adversity after another for Bay ever since he signed his four-year, $66 million deal with the Mets. Whether it was fighting through his terrible slumps or missing time with a myriad of injuries, there hasn’t been much to smile about since his move from Beantown to New York. The frustration began almost immediately and has only snowballed since he first took the field as a Met in April of 2010.

Gone was his tremendous right-handed power. Gone was his great ability to drive in runs in droves. Gone was the intimidating presence in the middle of the lineup. All the things the Mets craved about him never materialized with his new team. Now at 33 and in the throws of a second debilitating concussion, the question many are now wondering is if we’ve seen the last of Jason Bay in 2012? And one more question to consider is this one: Despite one final year left on his ill-fated contract, will the Mets rely on him again in 2013 or will they simply cut him as they did with Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez?

Nobody wanted to see the Mets sign Jason Bay more than I did before the 2010 season. I kept holding out hope that he would turn it around, but how many years can one hang onto the same unfulfilled hope? I wish Bay a speedy recovery and truly hope he can comeback sooner than can reasonably be expected, but this is a different team than the one we had in 2010. Kirk Nieuwenhuis has emerged, Lucas Duda has become a legitimate power source, and soon Matt den Dekker will be knocking at the door.

Even before this latest setback for Jason Bay, I was already putting the odds of him returning in 2013 at less than 50/50. I’m not looking to kick a player and a great guy while he’s down, but I am curious to know how many of you think Jason Bay will be the Opening Day left fielder for the Mets in 2013.

Get well soon. Jason…

Follow Joe D. at Mets Merized Online

Jun 19

R.A. Dickey And Roger Clemens Interesting Contrast

Earlier in the day there was Roger Clemens, one of the most talented pitchers of his era, standing on the courthouse steps after being acquitted of all charges in his perjury/steroids trial.

DICKEY: The best about sports.

Later, there was R.A. Dickey, whose salary this year probably isn’t as much as Clemens spent on his legal defense team, mow down the Baltimore Orioles with his second straight one-hit shutout.

It was a contrast in talent vs. perseverance, arrogance vs. humility, and likability.

Dickey will never have the career Clemens had, and I’m talking the pre-cheating Clemens. Just because he was acquitted doesn’t mean he didn’t use steroids. This was a sham of a trial with the government as inept in its case as the Orioles hitters were last night.

When it comes to steroid trials, the government is so useless it couldn’t have gotten a conviction with a signed confession.

The issue surrounding steroids is credibility. The public wants, deserves and needs to know what it is seeing is real. With Clemens it did not, because whatever happened behind closed doors there still is the belief he cheated.

With Dickey, whose arm forced him to go with an improvisational pitch, we know we are seeing honest effort and grit, and with it genuine joy when he succeeds.

We are done with Clemens, and have been for a long time, even before he went after Mike Piazza’s head with a fastball and later a sawed off bat in a fit of steroid rage. With Dickey, we can’t get enough of him. He is a great story of what sports should be about.

He makes us happy to watch, not disgusted.

 

Jun 18

Mets All-Time Team

Basically, the announcement of the All-Mets Team was a SNY/MetsBlog production, another way of saying it could have been done better. There wasn’t the build-up or suspense I would have liked to have seen. It would have been great to invite and introduce the team before a game, perhaps as part of a special ceremony.

When?

Perhaps there could have been a 50th anniversary weekend. Honor the great moments and players. It could have been done. The Mets surely did it on the return after 9-11 and the closing of Shea Stadium. During those events they proved they know how to throw a party.

All of a sudden, there was this announcement. To do it on a Sunday afternoon seemed like an afterthought. Could have been done with more flair.

Anyway, here’s the team:

CATCHER: Mike Piazza.

Comments: A no-brainer. Piazza might also be the author of the greatest regular-season moment in franchise history with his post 9-11 homer against the Braves. Gary Carter undoubtedly received consideration, but Piazza was an offensive force. Carter was a key piece in putting together the team of the 1980s, but Piazza carried the Mets while he was here and was still a player in his prime during his tenure here.

FIRST BASE: Keith Hernandez.

Comments: A slam dunk, no doubt. He’s arguably one of the great Mets of all time. There was no championship without Hernandez. Who else could be considered? John Olerud? Ed Kranepool? Make me laugh and suggest Carlos Delgado.

SECOND BASE: Edgardo Alfonzo:

Comments: I don’t doubt Fonzie’s numbers, but is he really the greatest at the position? There were significant Mets who played before 1975, for example Ron Hunt. Hunt was one of the first legitimate early All-Stars. He played during a different era, but when I think of Mets infielders, I think of Hunt right away.

SHORTSTOP: Jose Reyes.

Comments: Based on stats, but he wasn’t the greatest glove. That would be Rey Ordonez. He’s also not the greatest inspirational leader. That would be Bud Harrelson. Reyes reminds me of the list I recently read on greatest SNL characters, one that didn’t include John Belushi. Reyes was an exceptional player, but his definitive Met moment is still pulling himself out of the last game of the season after securing the batting title last year.

THIRD BASE: David Wright.

Comments: One of the greatest Mets ever. Don’t forget, the Mets used dozens of third basement before Wright stepped in. If there was any other possibility, it would have been Howard Johnson.

LEFT FIELD: Cleon Jones.

Comments: Jones had a good career with the Mets, but personally my pick would have been the widely unpopular Kevin McReynolds. McReynolds could hit, run and play defense and was a steady force on the teams of the mid-1980s. He was not an easy out. The Mets would kill to have a player like McReynolds today.

CENTER FIELD: Carlos Beltran.

Comments: A good choice. Had he been healthy during his entire Mets’ run, he might have gone down as one of the greatest position players in their history. He’ll still go down in the top five. Lenny Dykstra and Mookie Wilson were hugely popular, but were also part of a platoon. Unfortunately, and unfairly for Beltran, he’s mostly remembered for one checked swing.

RIGHT FIELD: Darryl Strawberry.

Comments: Outside of Tom Seaver, perhaps the easiest choice. Strawberry was one of the few players who made you think a home run was possible with every at-bat. The only other Met who had the same effect was Piazza.

RIGHT-HANDED STARTER: Tom Seaver.

Comments: Who else? Even had Dwight Gooden not tossed his career down the drain, he wouldn’t have touched Seaver.

LEFT-HANDED STARTER: Jerry Koosman.

Comments: The Mets have had several superb lefties, including Al Leiter, Johan Santana, Jon Matlack and Sid Fernandez. But, Koosman, who came a year before Seaver, was the first Mets’ pitcher to give the team a feeling of credibility every time he took the mound.

RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVER: Roger McDowell.

Comments: I have no problem with this choice. Don’t forget, McDowell pitched during a time when saves meant something. More than a few times he pitched two or three innings to get that save. What, you were thinking Armando Benitez or Francisco Rodriguez?

LEFT-HANDED RELIEVER: Tug McGraw.

Comments: Was he named for his numbers or because he coined a phrase? I would have gone with John Franco based on the save totals.

MANAGER: Davey Johnson.

Comments: I’ve heard a lot of people waxing for Gil Hodges, which is understandable, but based more on heart than head. Yes, the Mets first won under Hodges, but their longest run of success came during the time under Johnson. If Mike Scioscia hadn’t hit that homer in the 1988 NLCS for the Dodgers, the Mets might have had a dynastic run.

 

 

Jun 18

Mets Begin Week With Down Note; Jason Bay On Concussion DL

If the disabled list was a place of residence rather than a simple list, Jason Bay should be paying taxes there. He’s on the concussion DL this time after his hitting his head against the left field wall attempting to make a diving catch over the weekend series against the Reds.

RAMIREZ: Just say no.

In which they were swept, by the way.

Bay’s nightmare tenure with the Mets continues, and Terry Collins didn’t discount the idea he might be done for the season. Yes, Bay has underperformed with the Mets, but nobody – at least no right thinking person – wants to see an injury. However, should this be the case, it opens up an even greater opportunity for Kirk Neiuwenhuis, who figured to lose playing time with Bay’s return.

The most amusing thing I read all weekend were those comments advocating the Mets sign Manny Ramirez. Getting Ramirez was a bad idea years ago because of the talent it would require to land this clubhouse cancer. It’s a bad idea now because he’s remained a cancer, but one who can’t hit.

At one time Ramirez was a skilled hitter, but we must remember he’s failed three PED tests. And, he’s always been a head case, often a foul tempered one. No, the Red Sox wouldn’t have won without him, but they also might have won another title had he not quit on them.

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