Jun 26

Mets Matters: Bay Update

The more I think about it, the more aggravated I am about last night. Not so much that they lost, but in Terry Collins bringing up the possibility of a let down because of a late arrival into Chicago. It was a self-fulfilling prophesy. Think it and it might come true.

The bottom line is travel in MLB is blatantly unfair, but it is an issue that must be dealt with by all. Adversity is something a championship caliber team must overcome.

Among the Mets notes:

* Jason Bay has been cleared to work out on a stationary bike. If there are no concussion symptoms he can run and resume baseball activities this weekend in Los Angeles. Once again, the Mets have been getting production elsewhere so there’s no need to rush him back.

* Collins said Johan Santana’s starts won’t be cut short like the Nationals will do with Stephen Strasburg. The Mets will go with a five-man rotation the rest of the way. Santana is on a 115-pitch limit, and at the start of the season Collins said 28 starts would be ideal. He’s on pace for that, and if he can get to 32, it could translate into a good season for the Mets. That is, if he gets bullpen support.

* Although Daniel Murphy has been sitting against lefties, Collins said it isn’t permanent. Actually, that’s up to Justin Turner. If he hits lefties when he plays, he’ll continue to get time. Pretty simple, really. Murphy is homerless in his last 347 at-bats.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf

Ruben Tejada, ss

David Wright, 3b
Lucas Duda, rf
Ike Davis, 1b
Scott Hairston, lf
Daniel Murphy, 2b
Josh Thole, c
Dillon Gee, rhp

Jun 26

Bobby Parnell Now Mets Closer

We’ve been here before: The Mets will use Bobby Parnell as their closer while Frank Francisco is on the DL. The Mets once had visions of Parnell starting, but that fizzled. He’s been tried as the closer several times, including late last season, but never grasped the job.

Parnell got the opportunity last September after Jason Isringhausen earned his 300th save, but only converted three of seven opportunities. That forced the Mets to go after Jon Rauch and Francisco last winter in the FA market.

Collins has handled Parnell conservatively this season and believes he’s ready for another shot. In 36 appearances, Parnell is 1-1 with a 3.19 ERA with 31 strikeouts.

“I think his confidence is much better,” Collins told reporters in Chicago. “I think his experience doing it already is going to help him this year. So he’s going to get that chance.

“I wanted him to have that confidence. That’s why throughout this whole first half, when we mixed and matched who was going to pitch where, Bobby was absolutely dominant in that seventh-inning spot, where he was coming in and mowing guys down. So his confidence was high.”

Then the defense bailed on him in Washington which led to a couple of blown save opportunities.

Parnell attributed his success this season to taking something off his fastball. He’s still in the mid-90’s, but with better control.

“I’ve just got to keep doing what I’ve been doing,” Parnell said. “I’ve had good success with that. I try not to overthrow. I’m just trying to throw strikes in the bottom of the zone and flip a couple of curveballs up there and get them off balance.”

Jun 26

Terry Collins Saw It Coming; Calls Mets “Flat”

Terry Collins has been around the block more than a few times. He can see things others can’t and yesterday sensed a lack of energy from the Mets. Getting into Chicago at 4 a.m., after their adrenalin-sapping series with the Yankees can do that to a team.

WOOD: Mows down Mets (AP)

Offensively, Ike Davis’ two-out homer in the ninth averted a shutout. They couldn’t touch Travis Wood. Defensively, David Wright committed a crucial error that opened the door to a four-run Cubs seventh.

There was nothing good about the night.

“We were a little flat,” Collins said. “They’re human beings and the adrenaline knock out for a while, and the fact that they got about probably five or six hours of sleep didn’t help either.”

It was only one game, but how the Mets respond the rest of the series will be important. Contending teams, which the Mets now consider themselves, must be able to beat up on losing teams and the Cubs are MLB’s worst, now 23 games under .500.

ON DECK: Parnell gets closer job … again.

 

Jun 25

Mets Visit Charming Wrigley Field

The Mets will attempt to lick their wounds from losing two of three to the Yankees when they open a three-game series tonight at Wrigley Field, still a charm after all these years.

Built in 1912, the same year as Fenway Park, Wrigley Field remains a captivating place. It’s not an easy venue for a writer to work, but that’s our problem. It’s also not a comfortable place for players with small clubhouses and a cramped dugout.

For the visitors to get to the dugout, they must walk down a couple of flights of stairs and then weave their way through several halls (you could call them tunnels), the last two usually stank and wet.

But, the old time charm is what makes it worthwhile. The ivy on the brick walls, the rooftop seats across the street (a windfall for the building owners and the Cubs), the manually operated scoreboard in center field. All that takes us to a different time.

When you look past the center field bleachers you can see downtown Chicago. But, in that park you’ve escaped the hustle of today to a quieter, gentler time.

The seating for the fans is cramped and often obstructed, but Wrigley Field is still a tradition baseball and the Cubs are not willing to sacrifice. It’s been said in most years if you traded the Cubs roster for the White Sox roster there likely wouldn’t be a dramatic shift in attendance or fan support, because the real star is Wrigley Field.

(This year the Sox are significantly better, so that theory might not apply. But, we’re talking years when the teams have roughly the same record).

The fans are closer to the field than most parks (Fenway is the same), which generates a different feel and ambience. It’s like you’re a part of something. When a 10-year old can actually exchange a hello from a player during the game, that’s special.

In a concession to today’s economic realities of television advertising, the Cubs are playing more night games than ever. Although it has been decades since their last World Series appearance (they last came close in 2003 and would have made it had it not been for Steve Bartman), they have had playoff teams so it’s not an impossible concept.

Even without the luxury boxes other teams deem vital for their survival, the Cubs plod along. Once owned by the chewing gum company and later the syndicate that owns the Chicago Tribune, and now owned by the family trust of billionaire Joe Ricketts, the money is there to spend if they truly wanted.

They don’t jump into the deep end of the salary pool because the main attraction is an ancient stadium that is always filled, so what incentive do the Cubs have to spend more?

They build it and the people came, and they are still coming.

 

Jun 25

Mets Matters: Where’s Tim Byrdak?

For the second straight game, Mets manager did not go to lefty specialist Tim Byrdak against a left-handed hitter in Robinson Cano with the game on the line. I realize the Mets had only one lefty reliever at the time (today they brought up Justin Hampson).

BYRDAK: Not used when it counted.

It’s a nine-inning game, and where is it written the moment-of-decision must come in the ninth inning? It very well could have come down to the ninth inning without a lefty reliever, but I don’t want Miguel Batista to pitch to Robinson Cano.

The Mets have lost two straight games because they withheld using their left specialist. Hoping Terry Collins picks up on that.

Here’s more Mets notes:

* To make room on the roster for Hampson. the Mets designated for assignment Vinny Rottino. No comment from Rottino, but if you’re him and you know you’re the 25th man on the roster you couldn’t feel comfortable seeing the bullpen and knowing they needed to add.

* Frank Francisco’s strained left oblique landed him on the disabled list. I reiterate it is possible he was injured because he was overthrowing Friday night, perhaps to back up his “chickens” comments. Again, so stupid. Why antagonize a team like the Yankees who have the ability to pulverize you without any added incentive?

* Thank goodness the Mets got somebody to take that chicken off their hands. Now I can sleep nights.

* Dickey’s ERA rose to 2.31 after giving up five runs. He’s still a favorite to start the All-Star Game. Another candidate is Washington’s Stephen Strasburg. It is interesting to compare the two. Strasburg is the All-World talent with a golden future, while Dickey is the inspirational underdog.

ON DECK: Wrigley Field.