Sep 17

Mets fall short … again.

At least R.A. Dickey is finishing his season pitching well despite today’s 1-0 loss at Atlanta. Eleven straight quality starts, but Dickey will be the first to admit two walks in the eighth inning to set up Chipper Jones was anything but quality.

The Mets need to run the table to finish .500, and that won’t happen. They will finish with a record worse than last season, a summer when the bottom fell out.

We can look at a myriad of statistics that define a season, but the Mets have lost 25 games this year by one run and another 11 by two runs. Losing 36 times out of 79 defeats encompasses the Mets’ two most glaring weaknesses: hitting with runners in scoring position and an inability of their pitchers to make that one quality pitch to escape an inning. If the Mets are .500 in those games they are leading the wild card race.

That’s why Terry Collins’ outburst the other day was not only justified, but warranted. The situation demanded such a response. The Mets are a rebuilding team with a grocery list of flaws, but for the most part overachieved this season.

You want to see them play with the kind of intensity that can overcome many of those flaws. That is what this team has to take with it into the offseason as it looks forward, and it is Collins’ job to remind them.

They cannot afford to enter the winter with a defeatist attitude.

 

Sep 16

Collins: Mets packed it in.

Terry Collins ripped into his lethargic team when he said they folded it up last night against Washington.

Harsh, but true. And very much deserved.

For much of this season the Mets played alert and aggressive baseball, and although they are under talented, they gave us a reason to watch. There were a lot of comeback victories this summer; and some blown games, also.

Still, they played with some pride.

However, there’s been a lethargy surrounding the Mets this month and the latter part of August. Playing for .500 should have been a worthwhile and attainable goal, not a useless consolation prize.

If the manager said his team folded, then he should know best. He claimed responsibility and he bears some, but he’s not solely to blame. These are professional athletes, and many of them don’t have guaranteed positions.

There are two weeks remaining in the 2011 season, but the players should be thinking these couple of weeks is an audition for 2012.

Collins is right about one thing, and that is if they are quitting now, then they’ll quit next year. And, who needs that?

 

Sep 15

Today in Mets’ History: Record-wise the Mets were actually better last year at this time.

Last year at this time, we knew the playoffs were out of the question for the Mets, but they were at .500 at 73-73 and trying to salvage their season.

There was a twinge of optimism because we figured there would be a changing of the guard, with a new regime making things right again.

It’s what baseball does. It gives us optimism and hope.

So, we all hoped this year would be better. It would be a rebuilding year, but it would be better than the past two dreadful seasons because new blood would be running things.

I thought for a moment it was possible, the Mets would rally to salvage the season and finish at .500 or better.

It would have been a sign of true progress.

There have been positives this year, but they have been off-set by the inevitable injuries and other negatives. There’s a new regime, but there’s so much economic uncertainty swirling around the Mets that we can’t honestly say things will improve any time soon.

Never should the Mets be playing today to avoid being swept in a four-game series by the Washington Nationals. It tells of how things soured, and underscored the Mets’ inability to get over the hump.

The Mets had several spurts this season, but answered them with several slides. Win five, lose five, isn’t the answer.

Scoring four runs in the first three games of this series, and last night their anemic offense took away from a strong performance from Mike Pelfrey. However, I’ve written “strong performance,’’ from Pelfrey before only to watch him get torched in his subsequent start. In many ways, he personifies what has happened.

The Mets stranded ten last night and 40 over their last four games, and have left 1,558 on the season, tops in the majors. I don’t want to hear about their ability to get runners on base and even score (sixth in the NL). The point is they don’t score enough to overcome their spotty pitching.

The Mets have lost 24 games by one run, which is a reflection on both their pitching and offense. Improving one without the other doesn’t guarantee they take the next step.

I never expected them to compete for the playoffs this year. And, when they made a run and were four games over .500 in late July, you always expected the other shoe to fall.

Carlos Beltran was traded, and the Mets lost five straight at the end of July and early August. They fought back to get a game over .500, then had two five-game losing streaks within two weeks to fall eight under.

A staple of this team has been to rally and play with heart, to show us it cared. They pulled within a game of .500, but lost seven of eight on this homestand.

It is this homestand that made me feel some disappointment for the first time. I thought with the Cub and Nationals they could get over .500 to make a symbolic gesture at improvement.

Win or lose today, the Mets close with Atlanta, St. Louis, the Phillies and Reds. They are limping to the finish and .500 – which is mediocre to begin with – is no longer a possibility. They will be hard pressed to equal last year’s 79-83, and that would be disappointing.

The attitude under Terry Collins is much better than it was under Jerry Manuel, but the talent level hasn’t necessarily improved.

There are a myriad of issues facing the Mets in the offseason that should warn us the road is still long.

* Will the Mets keep Jose Reyes?

* Will Johan Santana be 100 percent?

* What happened with Mike Pelfrey and what direction will he take?

* Can Bobby Parnell be the closer, and can the Mets build a reliable bullpen bridge to him?

* Will they ever get anything out of Jason Bay?

* Will David Wright be a power hitter again?

Those are just the headline issues. There are issues surrounding Lucas Duda, Ike Davis, Angel Pagan, everybody in the rotation and at second base.

There’s also a collective bargaining agreement that makes the offseason uncertain, plus the Wilpon’s financial issues.

Gone is the poison that was Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, but this team still has a long way to go.


 



 



Sep 14

Reyes giving us a glimpse into the future.

Jose Reyes is playing hurt and might be rewarded by becoming the Mets’ first batting champion. At the same time Reyes is giving us a peak into the future, into the last few years of a multi-year contract he is seeking and the image isn’t pretty.

REYES: Not doing much of this lately.

Reyes was set up to steal last night, but made no move toward second. Later, he looked gimpy going from first to third. Over the past week  he hit a double that was a triple earlier this season.

He hasn’t tripled since July 21 and has one steal attempt since Aug. 29. He’s also been off defensively without the range we’ve come to expect. He’s essentially become a singles hitter since July 21 with only eight extra base hits.

“It’s not the same,” Reyes said last night. “Early in the season, I was healthy. It’s not the same now because I just came off the disabled list. I don’t want to blow up my leg running like crazy out there. If I feel good, I run like crazy, but now my leg’s not where it needs to be. That’s why I’m not going to go crazy.”

Reyes is in a no-win situation. If he doesn’t play and goes into the winter coming off the disabled list he hurts his negotiating position. But, he is also sabotaging his desire for a long-term, $100-million plus deal by playing, even if he wins the batting title.

Reyes makes his living with his legs and he’s playing without them now, the way he could be in five or six years.

The rap on Reyes is his injury history, early in his career and now the past three seasons. That issue – underscored by two trips to the disabled list this year – is shaving millions and likely years off his next contract.

When Reyes goes crazy, as he puts it, he shows us how great he can be and that he could possibly be worth all that money. He’s showing us he’s special.

But, what he’s showing us now is what could be the last few years of his contract and that isn’t special. It has to be worrisome for potential buyers because you don’t pay that kind of money for a singles hitter.

 

Sep 14

Mets’ 2012 schedule

It’s always fun to look at next year’s schedule, especially with this one all but gone.

The Mets open at home against Atlanta and Washington.

Their interleague opponents are Toronto (on the road in May, which seems odd), the Yankees (first at the Stadium in June then at Citi Field in July), at Tampa Bay and home to Baltimore.

Playing Toronto in May is awkward, as is having two road series to Philadelphia by May 10. Also quirky is a Cubs-Dodgers road trip in June, and three series against the Marlins the last month of the season (and first three days of October).

 

METS 2012 SCHEDULE

April

5, 7, 8 vs. Atlanta

9, 10, 11 vs. Washington

13, 14, 15 at Philadelphia

16, 17, 18 at Atlanta

20, 21, 22, 23 vs. San Francisco

24, 25, 26 vs. Florida

27, 28, 29 at Colorado

30 at Houston

May

1, 2 at Houston

4, 5, 6 vs. Arizona

7, 8, 9 at Philadelphia

11, 12, 13 at Florida

14, 15 vs. Milwaukee

16, 17 vs. Cincinnati

18, 19, 20 at Toronto

21, 22, 23 at Pittsburgh

24, 25, 26, 27 vs. San Diego

28, 29, 30 vs. Philadelphia

June

1, 2, 3, 4 vs. St. Louis

5, 6, 7, at Washington

8, 9, 10 at Yankees

12, 13, 14 at Tampa Bay

15, 16, 17 vs. Cincinnati

18, 19, 20 vs. Baltimore

22, 23, 24 vs. Yankees

25, 26, 27 at Chicago (NL)

28, 29, 30 at Los Angeles (NL)

July

1 at Los Angeles (NL)

3, 4, 5 vs. Philadelphia

6, 7, 8 vs. Chicago (NL)

13, 14, 15 at Atlanta

17, 18, 19 at Washington

20, 21, 22 vs. Los Angeles (NL)

23, 24, 25 vs. Washington

26, 27, 28, 29 at Arizona

30, 31 at San Francisco

August

1, 2 at San Francisco

3, 4, 5 at San Diego

7, 8, 9 vs. Florida

10, 11, 12 vs. Atlanta

14, 15, 16 at Cincinnati

17, 18, 19 at Washington

20, 21, 22,23 vs. Colorado

24, 25, 26 vs. Houston

28, 29, 30 at Philadelphia

31 at Florida

September

1, 2 at Florida

3, 4, 5 at St. Louis

7, 8, 9 vs. Atlanta

10, 11, 12 vs. Washington

14, 15, 16 at Milwaukee

17, 18, 19 vs. Philadelphia

21, 22, 23 vs. Florida

24, 25, 26, 27 vs. Pittsburgh

28, 29, 30 at Atlanta

October

1, 2, 3 at Florida