Apr 30

Wondering If Johan Santana Regrets Signing With Mets

This time, it was the Mets’ bullpen that betrayed Johan Santana. The Mets finally scored runs for him, but the bullpen blew a four-run lead in the eighth inning with Tim Byrdak serving a grand slam homer to Todd Helton.

Another no-decision for Santana, who is still looking for his first victory since September 2010.

SANTANA: Comes up empty again.

I know Santana doesn’t regret the money, but there are times such as yesterday when I wonder if he regrets not staying with Minnesota, where he had a chance to go to the World Series, or try the free-agent market where he could have gotten the money and a better chance to win.

The Mets were still a contender when they acquired him, but there were major cracks in the foundation. When Santana agreed to the deal, did he think about those things?

Santana has pitched well with the Mets when healthy, and to be fair, injuries could have happened anywhere. But, there have been too many games when the offense disappeared or the bullpen imploded to make him wonder if he did the right thing.

“We won. and that’s all I care about,” Santana said after yesterday’s game.

But, if winning is the only thing that matters, there must be times when he wonders if he made the right decision as there have been so many games since joining the Mets when he came away empty.

Santana is 0-2 with three no-decisions despite a 2.25 ERA this year. He’s given up only six earned runs in 18 innings, with four of them coming in one start.

He pitched to a 2.89 ERA in 2010 before the injury, but with nine no-decisions. Eight of those were games decided by two runs or less, and seven by one run.

In 2009, eight games he started that the Mets lost were decided by two runs, with five by one run.

There were 11 no-decisions in 2008, with the Mets winning six of those games. The Mets lost nine of the games he started by two runs or less, with six by one run.

All those numbers reminds me of the Peanuts cartoon strip when Charlie Brown, after being told of his lousy pitching record, screams “Tell your statistics to shut up!”

Trouble is, that can’t be done. The stats are louder than ever.

Apr 29

Mets, Dillon Gee Show Spunk In Denver

Does anybody remember the old “Mary Tyler Moore” show, when Lou Grant tells Mary: “You know what you have Mary? You have spunk.” Then after a pause, adds, “I hate spunk.”

Well, I happen to love it, and it was so enjoyable to see the Mets show it yesterday at Colorado after getting spanked the night before.

Dillon Gee gave them seven innings when the bullpen needed a breather, and Lucas Duda and David Wright flexed at the plate. Wright always does in the Rocky Mountains.

It was one Saturday afternoon, sure. But, it followed a horrid Friday night. Several times this year they’ve responded from bad days and bad series with a strong effort.

The Mets are a building team and one must take positive signs when you see them. This was such a time.

Apr 28

Mets Need Big Things From Dillon Gee

With Mike Pelfrey on the shelf – he’ll see Dr. James Andrews on Monday – and watching Chris Schwinden and the bullpen get torched last night, the Mets must get strong performances from Dillon Gee, not only this afternoon, but all the time.

GEE: Mets need more from him.

Gee, the Mets’ fourth starter, was brought up early last year and won his first seven starts, but hitters caught up with him and he finished 13-6. In his last start against the Giants, Gee gave the Mets six innings, but was hit for seven runs. Not a good tradeoff.

Last night’s four errors and an 11-run inning that overshadowed Scott Hairston’s cycle was one of those freaky things that happen. The defense can’t afford lapses like those because the Mets don’t have the firepower or the bullpen depth to overcome them.

Mets pitchers are typically working roughly six innings, which means the bullpen gets three. It got more last night. The more a pen is used the less effective it becomes over the long haul.

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Apr 27

Mets Shouldn’t Fool With Matt Harvey Now

Even if Chris Schwinden gets rocked tonight in Colorado, the Mets shouldn’t respond with Matt Harvey.

HARVEY: No need to force feed him.

There is a hole in the Mets’ rotation following Mike Pelfrey’s elbow injury and likely more than one candidate will be used to fill the void. Schwinden gets first crack. Who knows? Maybe he’ll be like Dillon Gee was last summer and win from the start.

However, if he doesn’t, the Mets would be making a mistake to dip into their minor league for Harvey, their first-round pick – and the seventh overall selection – in the 2010 draft out of North Carolina.

Harvey has pitched well for Triple-A Buffalo, and seemingly has all the tools. He’s  been clocked from 93 to 95 on his fastball and has a plus curveball and change-up.

But, he doesn’t know how to pitch in the major leagues and is just learning on the Triple-A level. Rushing him now could cause a setback in his development should he be hit hard. The Mets rushed Jenrry Mejia and Pelfrey, and shouldn’t take the gamble on Harvey.

Last night, the Mets fielded a home grown lineup for the first time in 41 years. They are developing a good, young core, and Harvey could be a key figure on the mound in the future. Despite the Mets off to a good start, the future isn’t now for them.

The prudent thing is to develop Harvey for this season, and perhaps give him a taste as a September call-up. Let him learn to walk before they let him run. They won’t regret that decision.

 

Apr 27

Encouraging News About Mets Farm System

It might not happen again for awhile – they have done it only three times in 50 years  – but the Mets’ starting lineup yesterday was comprised solely of products from the farm system. Elias reported it as the first time in 41 years.

Of course, that will change when Johan Santana and others start, and Andres Torres and Jason Bay return. Nonetheless, it is a positive sign,

In this era of spiraling salaries and considering their financial situation, homegrown talent is the surest form of cost certainty. As the Mets continue to improve, both on the field and in the standings, they’ll go to the outside more in the forms of free-agent signings and trades. But, the core has to be the farm system.

The Mets will soon have a decision to make in extending David Wright, which I believe they will. Two, three years down the road if they pan out as expected, the Mets will consider signing guys like Ike Davis, Josh Thole, Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada to long-term deals as to avoid arbitration and free-agency. This is what they did with Jon Niese.

Building from within is not a new theory and some of the premier examples is what the Yankees did during their run, adding a key homegrown player nearly every year. There was Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada.

Most of the great franchises have a core group from the farm system and this is what the Mets need to do to become an elite team. Now that they appear to have a foundation is why I think they’ll keep Wright, who is leading the team in every major offensive category.