Apr 15

Can’t anybody here play this game?

My title is one of Casey Stengel’s most memorable quotes and is applicable to how this season has started for the Mets. Yesterday’s doubleheader loss, coming hours after Terry Collins’ closed doors meeting, was a study in bad baseball.

CASEY: What would he think of this?

It made me wonder what would have happened had the Mets not focused on fundamentals during spring training.

From the outfield defense – what were you thinking Scott Hairston? – to Brad Emaus butchering a  ball at second, to the Daniel Murphy’s inexplicable baserunning, to the lack of clutch hitting and pitching, the day was a complete washout.

They were competitive, but still lost. The Mets have not learned to put away a team – they lead in every game of the four games they lost to Colorado – from either an offensive or pitching perspective.

Talent-wise, we knew going into the season that the Mets didn’t have enough to compete with Philadelphia and Atlanta in the NL East, but I, like most, bought into Collins’ emphasis on fundamentals.

It just hasn’t happened, and had they been able to execute fundamentally on defense and at the plate, they might have overcome some of their pitching weaknesses. It hasn’t happened that way.

What was Murphy thinking trying to go to third from second on a ball hit in front of him? He clearly lost track of the outs. How hard is it to count to three? Hairston’s effort on that fly ball was weak. A veteran like that needs to show more.

Bottom line: Game 1 never should have come down to David Wright’s fly ball to the warning track.

As much as baseball is a team sport, it is also an individual one. Before each pitch, a player should know what his responsibilities should be. And, prior to each at-bat, he should know what his objective should be, such has hitting a fly ball or advancing a runner.

These guys have coaches to remind them, but their objective is something they should have long since known since high school ball. It’s not Collins or the coaches, it is them. They should know to hit a ground ball to the right side with a runner on second and no outs. They should know not to chase on 2-0 at the plate. They should know where to position themselves and what base to throw to. They should know whether or not they should run depending on where the ball is hit.

And, at the plate, they should have better command of the strikezone and know how to work a walk. Again, not enough walks and too many strikeouts.

These are major league players and they should show more beyond their skill set.

And, I haven’t begun to think about the pitching, which has been atrocious. By the way, my confidence level on D.J. Carrasco tonight in Atlanta isn’t good. When Tuesday’s game was rained out and the Mets knew they had a doubleheader yesterday, and definitely when Chris Young was pushed back, they should have held back one of their minor league starters.

The bullpen was taxed already, even prior to the doubleheader, and realistically they will go deep into their pen with Carrasco pitching (considering he’s one of the relievers). Also, with Mike Pelfrey not showing much so far and Young’s arm tender, they will use everybody this weekend.

Not a good job anticipating by Sandy Alderson and Collins.

However, after yesterday’s lost afternoon, the one thing that separates itself from the bad baseball was the use of Francisco Rodriguez in the second game. With the game out of reach, and knowing Rodriguez’s contractual status of needing 55 completed games for his $17.5 million to kick in, why would the Mets let him finish a game in a non-save situation?

It made no sense whatsoever.





Apr 14

It’s looking like the same old Mets.

We’ve heard this before.

If you didn’t know the words belonged to Terry Collins, you’d swear they were Jerry Manuel’s or Willie Randolph’s.

COLLINS: Reading from Jerry and Willie's script.

Collins held a brief team meeting after last night’s latest loss and told his players, “we’re one pitch away, one swing away from being 9-2, and we’re not.’’

In some form or another, they are the words from a manager of a losing team. His players don’t make that pitch, or connect on that swing, because they aren’t good enough collectively to do so.

Last night the bad pitch was thrown by Jon Niese, but the decision to throw it was made by Collins, who let the lefthander work to Troy Tulowitzki with first base open resulting in a three-run homer.

The offense struggled again as the Mets dropped to 4-7.

“Well, we’re answering the same questions every night,’’ lamented Collins. “It’s time to start making pitches. It’s time to start getting a big two-out hit.’’

R.A. Dickey and Chris Capuano go in today’s doubleheader in which the Mets wrap up their brief homestand before heading to Atlanta, where they rarely do well.

A doubleheader with no day off following will undoubtedly tax an already worn bullpen, something the Mets don’t need before facing the Braves.

Long forgotten was the Mets’ 3-1 start, as they have gone 1-6 since. However, didn’t we expect this, and wasn’t it a matter of time before we heard those words from Collins?

Here’s the Mets’ line-up in Game 1:

Jose Reyes, SS

Daniel Murphy, 2B

David Wright, 3B

Ike Davis, 1B

Angel Pagan, CF

Willie Harris, LF

Scott Hairston, RF

Josh Thole, C

RA Dickey, RP

Apr 13

Niese tries to right Mets tonight.

It is one thing to lose, but another to give the game away as they did Monday night against the Rockies. The Mets are playing with little margin for error these days, especially against superior teams such as Colorado and Atlanta later this week.

On Monday, Mike Pelfrey threw 113 pitches in 5.1 innings, and the bullpen imploded, highlighted by poor throws from relievers Ryota Igarashi and Bobby Parnell to the plate that kept innings alive.

“The fight is still there, but we’ve got to stop making mistakes,’’ said manager Terry Collins, singing the same refrain heard from most losing teams.

Jon Niese will start tonight and must give the Mets innings as to take them away from the bullpen, which during the current slide of five losses in six games is 0-3 with a 6.57 ERA.

Niese is coming off a rocky start, giving up six runs on eight hits in four innings in an 11-0 loss at Philadelphia.

To talk during the game, click onto the Mets Chat icon to your left.

Apr 13

Mets-Rockies lineup for April 13

We’re still on for tonight with the Mets and Rockies. Jon Niese gets the ball for the Mets, who have lost five of their last six games.

Here’s the line-up:

Jose Reyes, SS

Daniel Murphy, 2B

David Wright, 3B

Carlos Beltran, RF

Ike Davis, 1B

Angel Pagan, CF

Willie Harris, LF

Josh Thole, C

Jon Niese, LP

COMMENT: Not surprising to see Murphy back at second, even though Terry Collins said it isn’t a platoon with Brad Emaus. Murphy adds some offense and made a good play defensively. … No surprises otherwise in the order.

NOTES: Chris Young has biceps tendinitis, so his start will be pushed back to Sunday in Atlanta. … The Mets will need a spot starter to replace Young Friday. It could be D.J. Carrasco. Since Dillon Gee pitched Tuesday for Buffalo, that eliminates him. … Blaine Boyer cleared waivers and will become a free agent.


Apr 13

Parnell’s job in jeopardy; Bay not ready.

The leash could be getting shorter for struggling reliever Bobby Parnell.

Parnell, who fancies himself as a future closer, might have trouble holding onto to the set-up role if he continues to falter.

“Bobby will either step up and do the job or we’ll find somebody else,’’ said pitching coach Dan Warthen, who has not put a timetable for when Parnell must turn it around.

Parnell’s problem has been command and a drop in velocity, likely attributed to a mechanical problem in his delivery.

Presumably, that somebody will be veteran Jason Isringhausen, who has 293 career saves. The Mets signed Isringhausen to add stability to an inexperienced bullpen, and the eighth inning role would best suit his abilities.

Even if Isringhausen is slotted into the eighth inning role, the Mets still have a problem in their pen with only one lefthander.

GM Sandy Alderson said it would be at least two more weeks on the disabled list for Jason Bay. The Mets had hoped Bay would return last Saturday.

Alderson said these types of injuries are hard to predict, but veteran Mets watchers know with their team it is always longer than expected.

Terry Collins said he likes the energy Daniel Murphy brings to the line-up, but wouldn’t say he is going with a platoon system at second base.

Murphy was penciled in to start last night, but the game was rained out. Tonight’s line-up hasn’t been posted.