May 15

Jason Bay’s Return Presents Dilemma To Mets

Jason Bay has begun working out in Port St. Lucie. He’s still several weeks away, but what is to become of the Mets’ outfield when he comes back?

Terry Collins said Bay will play, but not how much.

BAY: A frequent site. (Getty Images)

I don’t like the idea of Kirk Nieuwenhuis returning to the minor leagues or having his playing time substantially reduced. And, for the money the Mets are paying Bay, he will play. That’s always a factor, regardless on what the manager or GM say.

Part of what goes into Collins’ decision would be the Mets’ record at the time. If they are consistently winning and with Nieuwenhuis producing it would be deflating to sit him.

The Mets could bring Bay back slowly in a platoon role until he regains his stroke. And, I’m talking about the one he left in Boston, not his brief spurt before the injury.

Another scenario, and one more difficult to implement because of all the moving parts would be to rotate Nieuwenhuis in the outfield, playing a day in right, one in center and one in left, which would give Andres Torres and Lucas Duda a rest. It could also bury Scott Hairston on the bench. I believe this will be how Collins handles things.

I like Nieuwenhuis and he’s done nothing to warrant to be benched. Conversely, Bay’s track record is such that he doesn’t deserve the automatic fulltime insertion into the lineup.

The one thing we have learned since Bay’s injury is Nieuwenhuis represents the Mets’ future, while Bay does not.

 

May 15

Terry Collins Sticks With Frank Francisco As Mets Closer

I’m not crazy about the idea of the Mets sticking with struggling closer Frank Francisco, and definitely wasn’t as the ninth inning started to get away. However, when that ball stayed up in the right-center gap, it ensured Francisco would remain the closer for another day.

COLLINS: Being consistent.

Collins dismissed the idea of replacing Francisco, even temporarily, from the spot where the Mets will pay him $12 million for two years. I didn’t like the signing then, and I don’t like it now. Maybe Sandy Alderson is having second thoughts, but with that commitment unless Francisco becomes a total bust he’ll stay.

Collins didn’t say salary was the reason, but somewhere it must come into play.

The Mets are winning in part because their chemistry has been good, and mostly Francisco has contributed to that. Francisco’s recent struggles are too small a window to make the decision, Collins said. Removing Francisco has a trickle down effect throughout the bullpen. Jon Rauch’s role changes, so to does that of Tim Byrdak and Bobby Parnell.

There are rough times and there is unraveling, and changing everybody’s role alters the chemistry and changes everything. I recall the Mets doing than at the end of the 2007 season during their epic collapse.

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May 14

Mets Must Explore Bullpen Options Outside Frank Francisco

As I said yesterday, a team is only as strong as its bullpen. The Mets have exceeded most expectations save one: The bullpen remains a concern. It is the Mets’ weakest link.
Frank Francisco blew his second save in three games, meaning in a perfect world they would have swept the Marlins this weekend and gone 6-0 on their road trip.. However, baseball, as we know, is an imperfect sport and the Mets certainly are an imperfect team.
In the long term Francisco will remain the closer simply because of that ridiculous two-year, $12-million contract. If a player’s own team has no interest in him, then why do the Mets give multi-year deals? Wasn’t anything learned from the Omar Minaya era?
Manager Terry Collins needs to address this sooner than later, because nothing can kill the good vibrations the Mets have emitted this spring than a leaky bullpen. Jon Rauch? Tim Brydak? Back to Bobby Parnell? Perhaps a committee?
Collins knows his personnel better than anybody, but clearly everybody can tell right now Francisco is not the answer.
“He’s the boss,” Francisco told reporters. “He can do whatever he wants. I’m here to help the team; I guess I’m not doing that. Whatever decision he makes, it’s fine with me. But I’m here to fight. Whenever I can, I’m going to try to do my best out there every time I go out.”
So far, Francisco’s best is an 8.56 ERA, with 20 hits and seven walks in 13 2/3 innings. Those numbers are positively Oliver Perez-like.
ON DECK: Mets week ahead.
May 13

Mets And Mothers

While tradition is fathers and sons watching baseball, mothers also play an important role.

My mother was as instrumental as my father when it came to fostering my love of baseball. It was mom who drove me to my Little League games and practices. It was my mom who also brought home a pack of baseball cards when she went to the store.

My mother didn’t understand the nuances of the sport, but she knew my favorite teams and players. When the World Series was played in the afternoon and I couldn’t watch it, she would tell me the final scores when I got off the bus.

I miss my mom, but my love of her does live on a bit as I still follow baseball.

I wish all you have a Happy Mothers Day and do something special to her.

For those moms who might be watching the Mets this fine afternoon, here’s the starting lineup:

Andres Torres, cf
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, lf
David Wright, 3b
Lucas Duda, rf
Daniel Murphy, 2b
Ike Davis, 1b
Ronny Cedeno, ss
Rob Johnson, c
Jon Niese, lhp

May 12

Frank Francisco Spoils Script; Dickey Starts Today

Frank Francisco proved again last night a team is as strong as its bullpen. When the door isn’t slammed, defeat walks through it, and last night the Mets’ winning streak was snapped at five.

A fifth straight comeback win, and six straight victories overall would have represented another step, but they’ll have to start from scratch now. The thing about this team is the feeling it can be done.

It was exciting to see the Mets rally again, getting key pinch-hits from Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter. With how the game began, it looked like a long night.

But the way the Mets fought back, working long counts and playing fundamental baseball was good to see. Lucas Duda hitting a grounder to the right side to advance David Wright; Nieuwenhuis coming back from two strikes; Mike Baxter running up the count before he delivered.

For the most part that is how the Mets have played lately and it reflected in the standings.

Then comes the bullpen, which I’m not sold on. Francisco already has two blown saves and two losses. There’s a reason why the Blue Jays let him go and we’ve seen glimpses of that already.

He’s another reliever that brings to the mound with him an uneasy feeling this might not be a pretty inning. He proved that last night.

The Mets attempt to rebound this afternoon with R.A. Dickey, who has been their most reliable starter. Ricky Nolasco pitches for the Marlins, so this could be low scoring.