Jun 10

Mets, Ike Davis Hitting Skids

It wasn’t that long ago that the Mets were seven games over .500 and a mere half-game out of first place. However, things change quickly when a team loses five of six games.

I mentioned several times during the Mets’ good start that consistency was essential. Get to .500; win series, two of three; avoid losing streaks; keep applying pressure and not getting down when tripped up.

After a good stretch that included winning three straight from St. Louis and getting the franchise’s first no-hitter, the Mets let one get away from the Cardinals, were handled by the Nationals, and lost the first two games of their series against the Yankees.

After Yankee Stadium, it’s three at Tampa Bay and back home to Cincinnati. It’s not getting any easier.

I mention this because every season has its lulls and spurts. Too many times in recent seasons we’ve seen the Mets reel off five, six games in a row. Didn’t they do ten one year? However, because of a lack of pitching or timely hitting they’d turn around and drop five or six. It’s like running in place.

The Mets have made positive strides this season, but to take the next step and make a serious run, they must develop consistency,

A good place to start is always pitching, but for the most part the pitching has been good. Right now, one of their first priorities is to get Ike Davis going. Of all the regular position players in the majors, his average is second worst.

So far, the Mets have eschewed the move of maintenance in the minor leagues. That could change after this road trip.

 

Jun 09

Don’t Blame No-Hit Pitch Count For Johan Santana’s Bad Start

There’s a lot of reasons to like Terry Collins, and falling on the sword last night for Johan Santana’s bad outing is another one of them. Collins lamented all week of running up Santana’s pitch count.

SANTANA: Didn't have it.

He did it again after the Yankees shelled Santana last night, saying all those home runs was the result of rust.

“I am responsible for the way he pitched,” Collins said. “He was rusty. The command of his stuff was not as sharp as it’s been the past three or four or five starts. It was my doing tonight. … We erred on the side of caution, and it cost us the game.”

The Mets lost 9-1, so there were a lot of reasons why they lost. It was admirable of Collins to take the blame – other Mets managers failed to do so – but it wasn’t needed.

Collins attributed Santana’s rust to pushing him back two days after the lefty ace’s 134-pitch no-hitter. Collins said he did it out of caution. Remember, this was a $20-million pitcher coming off shoulder surgery. Collins was in a no-win situation last week. He either kept Santana in the game and possibly risk injury or pull him and the no-hitter is gone.

Santana said he could have gone on regular rest, but also said he was on board with Collins’ decision. Santana said last night was just one of those things and there’s no other way to think of it.

Santana had been of a sharp roll, so maybe he was due. Santana’s command was off, but his velocity was there and that’s one way to judge his shoulder was fine.

There’s no telling when a pitcher’s arm will give out. Nolan Ryan’s lasted for over 20 years, then one day something went. It happens, and it happens in a variety of ways.

Right now, Santana is pitching well for the most part and is healthy. He could remain this way for the rest of his career, or next month could run into problems. We’re after the fact now; he’s pitched since the 134-pitch game. If something happens in the future it would be impossible to pin it on the no-hitter.

Just enjoy Santana now for what he’s done, and also be grateful for a guy like Collins, who continually shows he’s the right guy for the job.

 

 

Jun 08

The Great Mets, Yankees And Fan Debate

I was debating what to write about Mets-Yankees this weekend and was coming up dry. I despise interleague play, but you already knew that. It is unfair, and I’ll get into that later.

I thought about writing this weekend being a make-or-break series for the Mets, but the other day I mentioned its importance as part of a longer stretch of games, and didn’t want to run those bases again. Afterall, it is only three games, and unless they were playing the Yankees the last weekend of the season to get into the playoffs, what is the use?

Basically, that last one is of several fundamental flaws of interleague play. I’d rather watch Mets-Padres, Mets-Reds or Mets-Nationals than Mets-Yankees. Afterall, those games somehow matter more when it comes to sorting out who gets into the playoffs.

I recently had surgery so I’m pretty much still confined to the house, and with daytime TV being one of the Eight Miserable Wonders of the World (however, I would like to see a re-run of the Odd Couple, Get Smart or WKRP in Cincinnati) I thought I’d scan the Internet.

Went on the ESPN site and started to read this article on whether who has it better, Mets or Yankees fans? Lame with no real answer. OK, if the criteria was World Series titles or Hall of Famers, it is no contest. There is none because the Mets have been around half as long as the Yankees.

Then again, what does a team’s success or failures have anything to do with its fans? It’s not like two neighbors deciding to join different country clubs, with one clearly having the better pool.

Everybody has their reasons why they cheer one team over another. When you start pulling for a team when you’re eight years old, I doubt history has much to do with it. There’s logistics, growing up in the same area as your team. Maybe it was a player you started to follow. It could be anything. Perhaps your father liked that team, so you did the same.

Then again, if your dad followed the Yankees, maybe you cheered for the Red Sox. Of course, those could be deeper issues.

There aren’t any stedfast rules to cheering, but here’s one that seems pretty safe: You can’t cheer for both the Yankees and Mets. I don’t put much stock into cheering for both because you cheer for New York. Much like you can’t pull for the Celtics and Lakers, or the Steelers and Ravens. It doesn’t seem right.

A Mets fan is a Mets fans for a myriad of reasons and you have your own reasons why you cheer for them. Same thing for being a Yankees fans. There are Yankees fans of all ages, and yes those of you started following them from 1995 on could get points off for being front runners. You do get bonus points if you saw Horace Clark played.

If you are a Mets fan, you know disappointment, but that doesn’t always translate to being a “deeper,” or “greater” fan. I never bought into the saying as being a “diehard,” or “long-suffering,” Mets fan. If you’re a true fan, you don’t die with your team because die denotes permanence.

True fans are those who hung around with the Celtics being blown out last night and chanting “Let’s go Celtics.” If was an inspiring moment. And, long-suffering doesn’t cut it, either, because while there’s disappointment, if you really suffered, you wouldn’t be a fan of that team in the first place.

Only a masochist would choose to suffer.

I don’t know how this season, or this weekend for that matter, will turn out. But, a third of the way through this summer being a fan of the Mets has been rewarding and fun.

And, I’m happy for you.

 

 

 

 

Jun 07

R.A. Dickey Shows Mettle Again; Warrants Extension

The Mets entered today’s game having lost three straight and on the verge of being swept in Washington then heading to the play the Yankees and Tampa Bay.

Who didn’t think they were heading for a slide?

Evidently, not R.A. Dickey,

Dickey became the majors’ first nine-game winner this afternoon in beating the Nationals, and in the process extended his career-high scoreless streak to 24.2 innings.

Dickey received home-run support from Lucas Duda, who is becoming the power hitter the organization hoped and the Mets salvaged the series with a 3-1 victory.

Dickey might have done more than just salvaged a series, he might have put the brakes on something that could have been bad. Dickey said he’d like to remain with the Mets and would welcome an extension.

He underscored that desire today.

 

Jun 06

Jason Bay Back For Mets …. Kind Of

Jason Bay was activated from the disabled list this afternoon, but isn’t in the lineup for tonight’s game at Washington. Just as well, as there’s no great desire on my part to see him play. Not yet, anyway.

BAY: Welcome back?

I am leaning toward the camp of a player not losing his job because of injury, but that can’t be absolute. With the Mets, when David Wright goes down he should play again when he’s able. Wright’s track record of production warrants that right, or respect, if you will.

However, in the two plus years Bay has been with the Mets, what exactly has he done to earn that privilege? Has he had a run of production similar to the small window opened by Kirk Nieuwenhuis? I’d say no. With Nieuwenhuis playing, there’s a reasonable expectation of something good happening. You can’t criticize Bay’s defense or hustle. It the combination of both which landed him on the disabled list to begin with. However, the Mets aren’t paying him all that money just for defense. Mix in a RBI once in awhile.

The Mets won’t eat Bay’s contract and release him. His contract makes him impossible to trade. He will play, but does it have to be right away with the team playing so well.

With the Mets facing six games on the road in AL parks in New York and Tampa, there’s an opportunity to gradually ease him back in the DH role. That’s one of the perks – if you can call it that – of interleague play.

I’d go that route first, then work him back into the outfield spotting Nieuwenhuis in left, Andres Torres in center and Lucas Duda in right.  And, with Ike Davis having problems at the plate, I’d even see if Bay can play a little first base.

Afterall, any bit of information is useful, right?

During spring training, Terry Collins said he would be reluctant to move Duda from right to first and Daniel Murphy from second to third, or first, because he wanted them to just concentrate on learning their new positions. Duda has been taking grounders at first, which Collins explained away as keeping him sharp in anticipation of double switches.

Should Bay return and start raking, he should play, but I’d be hesitant to jump right in with him on an everyday basis. I’d make him earn it. You see, there’s a good feeling with the Mets again. They are relevant, with an emphasis on team. That’s why I was disappointed in Davis expressing reluctance in going down to the minors to work on his hitting. That’s why I don’t want to see playing time going to someone simply because of his contractual status.

That would be a step back.