Aug 12

Dillon Gee is this year’s surprise

In forecasting the Mets’ 2012 rotation, there has to be a spot for Dillon Gee, just as this year’s staff held a role for R.A. Dickey as the result of this out-of-nowhere season.

GEE: This year's surprise goes tonight.

Chris Young’s injury was the opportunity Gee needed to build on his designation as an organizational arm to one with a future.

Gee, tonight’s starter at Arizona, has impressed with his guile and ability to challenge hitters. He gives no quarter and so far has been exceptional in spotting his 90 mph. fastball to set up his changeup, which is his best pitch.

“When I look at my stuff on video, I say, `Hey, it’s average,’ ’’ Gee said earlier this season. “But, guys tell me my changeup is a plus-plus pitch.’’

Catcher Josh Thole said Gee’s control carried him in the minors and has stayed with him on this level, but has deserted him recently as he has walked 12 over his last four starts.

Gee, of course, will carry into next season the specter of whether he can duplicate what he’s accomplished. The same questions were asked of Mike Pelfrey this spring.

Gee and Niese have been the Mets’ most effective pitchers. Pelfrey remains an enigma, Dickey can be upgraded and Johan Santana’s remains a question. Chris Capuano has been effective at times and should be brought back.

As they did last year, the Mets will explore the free-agent market for middle-tier arms, such as Jon Garland. There is talent in the minor leagues, but it is at least two years away.

 

Aug 12

Today in Mets’ History: Mays’ finale at Candlestick.

When the consider the event, it was shocking that only 13,000 were in attendance on this day in 1973 at San Francisco.

MAYS: Always popular at Shea.

The Giants beat the Mets, 4-1, in what was Willie Mays’ last appearance as a player in Candlestick Park. Mays went 0-for-4.

Five days later, against Cincinnati’s Don Gullet at Shea Stadium, Mays hit his 660th and final home run of his career.

This was Mays’ last season, and it was a disappointing way to go out, even if he played in the World Series. In 66 games, Mays hit .211 with six homers and 25 RBI.

The Mets traded for Mays in May of 1972 in a public relations coup for the franchise. At the time, the Giants were in financial distress and owner Horace Stoneham couldn’t guarantee a position after retirement.

MAYS CAREER

 

Aug 11

Liking how Collins handled Niese

After winning the first two games of this series, coming away with a split is definitely disappointing. It’s not as if the Mets had a realistic chance to catch the Braves for the wild-card, but after losing seven of their last 10 they are now 10.5 games behind Atlanta.

NIESE: Keeps on growing.

After another one-run loss this afternoon (that’s 18 on the season), they are headed to Arizona and San Diego, where it won’t be easy. The Mets are at their point of the season where the goals are fundamental, such as finishing above .500 and making value judgments on the future.

With the latter, I liked how Terry Collins handled Jonathan Niese this afternoon. Collins gave Niese 122 pitches worth of rope and stuck with him in the eighth when most managers would have been seduced by the pitch count and gone the conventional route.

Most managers would have yanked Niese after Cameron Maybin’s leadoff single, and definitely after the stolen base. Then, after an intentional walk and double steal, Jerry Manuel might have been on his second reliever.

With runners on second and third, Collins gave Niese a strong vote of confidence and allowed him to pitch to Aaron Cunningham. Perhaps it was a vote of non-confidence in the bullpen, but this was important to Niese’s development.

Cunningham grounded a ball to Ruben Tejada, who, instead of getting in front of the ball, tried to one-hand it. The ball went off the heel of his glove and Niese was on his way to becoming the hard-luck loser.

Even so, Niese got the ground ball he needed, indirectly rewarding Collins’ confidence.

A couple of years ago teams called the Mets asking for Niese and they wisely eschewed. It was one of Omar Minaya’s better decisions.

Niese still has a way to go, but this was definitely something to build on.

 

 

Aug 11

Today in Mets’ History: Carter hits 300th homer

On this day in 1988, Gary Carter hit his 300th career home run in a 9-6 victory at Chicago.

Carter finished that season with 11 homers and just 46 RBI, and was released after the 1989 season.

In five seasons with the Mets, Carter hit 89 homers with 349 RBI.

After leaving the Mets, Carter played single seasons for San Francisco, Los Angeles and retired as an Expo in 1992.

NOTE: Carter’s daughter, Kimmy Bloemers reports his brain tumors have improved, but the condition remains inoperable.

 

Aug 11

Mets line-up vs. Padres

There are many glaring stats that help define a season. For the Mets, their 25-31 record at home is one of them. This was supposed to be a homestand where they could make up some ground, but they are a dismal 3-5.

Here’s the line-up that will try to get it done today:

Scott Hairston, CF

Justin Turner, 2B

David Wright, 3B

Jason Bay, LF

Lucas Duda, 1B

Nick Evans, RF

Ronny Paulino, C

Ruben Tejada, SS

Jon Niese, LP