Apr 23

Mets Doing Wise Thing With Johan Santana

Johan Santana didn’t last two innings in his last start, so did he really need to be pushed back from today’s start?


Terry Collins said he’d take every opportunity to give Santana extra rest when he could and this was the ideal thing to do simply based on the probability of lousy weather. The forecast is rain throughout the day, so the odds are the Mets might not get in both games of their doubleheader today against the Giants. They might not even get in one game.

However, Collins didn’t want to take the chance of wasting Santana today by having him sit through a long delay and not being able to bring him back. The bonus in pushing back the rotation is it also keeps Mike Pelfrey from pitching against the Marlins, a team that owns him.

The Mets have learned a lot about Santana durning his rehab from shoulder surgery, but what they don’t know is how he’ll respond after starting and his ability to come back from a long delay. And, with the weather also cooler, there’s no sense in taking this risk.

With the Giants not coming in again this season, the doubleheader was the only option. However, if the games get bagged today they’ll have to play one anyway. This is another problem with the unbalanced schedule, which is a byproduct of interleague play.

What I don’t understand is why MLB scheduled the Giants in this early in the first place. The weather is always suspect this time of year, so why schedule a team that won’t come in again, or one that is three time zones away? With fewer and fewer off days in the schedule, there should be more foresight in the scheduling.

Keep April within the division, or no farther away then the Central Time Zone. That way, a team has to travel no more than two hours on an off day to make the game up. Just common sense.


Apr 22

Add Phil Humber To The List

Add Phil Humber to the list of ex-Mets to throw a no-hitter. Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan seven times, David Cone and Dwight Gooden. Meanwhile, the Mets’ franchise doesn’t have any.

I liked dealing with Humber when he was with the Mets. He was always pleasant to speak with and had a good sense of humor. At the time, I was happy for him when he was traded because I knew it gave him a chance to pitch, something that wasn’t going to happen any time soon with the Mets.

The Mets, of course, shouldn’t lament the trade of Humber because it brought them Johan Santana. At the time, I know few people regretted the deal.

HUMBER: Nice thing for a nice guy.

I don’t write this to rip the Mets. Far from it. I mention it to point out how fickle baseball can be.

Here we are, watching the Mets blow a ninth-inning lead when their rising young outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis overruns a pop-up only to win the game in the bottom of the inning on a wild throw. Amazing stuff. It really was.

Of course, it paled to what happened in Fenway Park. The iconic ballpark – celebrating its 100th anniversary – has been the site of hundreds of memorable moments with dozens of Red Sox collapses. So, why not celebrate that history in grand style? Down 9-0, the Yankees stormed back to back-to-back monster innings to rout the Sox, 15-9.

If Bobby Valentine has a magic touch as a manager, now is the time to use it. Games like yesterday can carry a psychological impact. For the Mets, it could right them after a three-game losing streak. For the Red Sox, as the papers point out this morning, it could carry devastating consequences.

Then again, it could carry no impact. That’s the fickle nature of the sport and one of the reasons it drives us crazy. And, one of the reasons why we love it so.


Apr 21

Mets Starting Lineup Vs. Giants

The Mets will attempt to regain their footing this afternoon behind this lineup and Mike Pelfrey:

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf

Daniel Murphy, 2b

David Wright, 3b

Ike Davis, 1b

Jason Bay, lf

Lucas Duda, rf

Josh Thole, c

Ruben Tejada, ss

Mike Pelfrey, rhp

LINEUP COMMENTS: For the most part, Terry Collins’ lineup has been consistent. I like Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the leadoff spot and beginning to think he’s a keeper.


Apr 21

Mets On Slippery Slope Following Another Loss

The bloom is off the Mets’ early season rose. After a quick start that included winning the first two games in last weekend’s series in Philadelphia, the Mets have lost three straight and four of their last five.

They are still over .500, but the sense this could be a different year is fading. Thirteen games is two small a picture to frame it a season, but the crispness that opened the year is gone.

Frank Francisco, who opened with three straight saves, has given up four runs in his last three appearances. Last night he walked Melky Cabrera on four pitches to lead off the tenth. Cabrera stole on a pitchout, which is almost impossible to do, and scored on a two-out single.

That’s three red flags in one inning: the leadoff walk; stealing on a pitchout shows an inability to hold runners and a lack of concentration; and the two-out hit is indicative of not putting away an inning. A successful closer doesn’t do any of those things on a consistent basis.

Francisco has good stuff, but has always been erratic in the little things, such as those mentioned above. Explains in large part why he was was available.

There’s more to be concerned with:

By definition, Jon Niese had a quality start giving up three runs in six innings, but needed 109 pitches to do so. That’s clearly working too hard. That many pitches should take him through the eighth, at least. Maybe complete-game worthy.

However, it was an upgrade from what the Mets received their two previous games from R. A. Dickey and Johan Santana. This afternoon it is Mike Pelfrey, who has been anything but calming and comforting.

The starting pitching is key to whatever success the Mets have this year and it must improve.

Offensively, Jason Bay homered and got another hit, but neither he nor Lucas Duda are hitting in the clutch. Bay struck out with runners on second and third and one out in the tenth. Both hitters are 1-for-13 with RSIP. That’s 2-for-26, which translates into a lot of runners left on base and empty innings. A lot of losses, too.

Also offensively are the continuing struggles of Ike Davis who struck out twice while going hitless five times last night. His swing gets longer and loopier by the game.

All teams are going to have night like that occasionally, but the Mets’ last four losses have exposed their flaws greatly.

I wrote several times this week how the Mets had to snap out of it to avoid a downhill slide. They are in one now.

ON DECK: Starting lineup.