Aug 05

Today in Mets’ History: A reason to watch.

The Atlanta Braves are in town and not too long ago that was a big deal. As the Yankees and Red Sox go at it in Fenway Park for first place – it’s a worn story, but it’s real baseball – the Mets are clinging to what is left of their season.

After two disheartening losses to Florida, the Mets are 16.5 games behind first-place Philadelphia – noting for the record – and eight games behind wild-card leader Atlanta. They are also 2.5 games out of last place.

At 55-55, the Mets have exceeded most expectations to the point where the losses to the Marlins were anguishing. There was a moment this week when I actually looked at the scoreboard for the Braves score and did some quick wondering math.

The math is quite simple this weekend: Win or go home. Nothing short of a sweep will do.

For those who can’t dream of the impossible, remember on this date in Mets history they were in last place in the National League East by 11.5 games with a 48-60 record.

The Mets have the same record today as they did last season after 110 games, but even with their financial problems, there isn’t the same train wreck scenario.

Last year at this time we wondered about the job stability of Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel, and there was the lingering stagnating cloud that was Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.

All that negativity is gone, and with Sandy Alderson there is the hope of a rebuilding process heading in the right direction. And, considering what he was dealt, how can you not be impressed with what Terry Collins has brought to the party?

Carlos Beltran is gone, but we knew all along that would happen. We also knew this would be a season without Johan Santana. We aren’t surprised Jason Bay isn’t hitting. We can’t also be surprised by a fall off from R.A. Dickey and the bullpen lapses.

But, we didn’t expect to be without David Wright for two months and not have Ike Davis, and we thought Mike Pelfrey would take another step.

And, quite honestly, when Beltran was here, few expected him to play as well as he did.

There are still a myriad of questions and issues surrounding this team, not the least of which is its financial structure and what will become of Jose Reyes.

All that and there’s still reason to watch.

For the most part the Mets are playing hard, aggressive and interesting baseball. Not always spotless, but there is a grit about them that is appealing. Last year, mostly because of its leadership and the Perez mess, the Mets were an easy team to dislike.

However, there is a likeable quality about this group. They play with an integrity that for one more weekend at least, there is reason to watch them and wonder what if.

 

Aug 02

Tonight’s lineup vs. Marlins.

Maybe Terry Collins is giving Daniel Murphy a day to think over his defense, but he’s not in the lineup for tonight’s game against Florida.

Murphy’s brain freeze set up Mike Stanton’s game-winning grand slam. It also served notice Murphy remains a defensive liability and a man without a position.

GM Sandy Alderson said Murphy will not play winter ball to work on a position in hope of him mastering things during spring training.

Well, good luck with that.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Jose Reyes, SS

Justin Turner, 2B

David Wright, 3B

Scott Hairston, RF

Jason Bay, LF

Angel Pagan, CF

Lucas Duda, 1B

Mike Nickeas, C

Chris Capuano, LP

 

Aug 02

Mets more maddening than amazing.

They are still more maddening than amazing.

After winning five straight, the Mets have dropped three in a row and are a poor 22-27 at home, where they should be more formidable.

PELFREY: Still wonder about him.

A team can’t be a contender if it doesn’t win at home. And, they won’t win if they keep playing as they did last night.

Of course, it begins with pitching, and Mike Pelfrey continues to make you scratch your head, even when he gives up three runs. That should be enough to win most games, but last night was not most games. Winning pitchers find a way to shut down the opposition, especially when their offense falters, but Pelfrey remains too generous.

There are times, especially because he throws a sinker, when Pelfrey needs bust a hitter on the fists and get a ground ball – or go for the strikeout – but last night he gave up two sacrifice flies.

I thought Pelfrey made strides last season, but he’s regressed to where I wonder if he’ll ever be mentally tough enough to consistently work out of trouble. I’m not saying he must be Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson or Don Drysdale, but he needs to get meaner.

Had Pelfrey avoided one of those sacrifice flies there never would have been Mike Stanton’s grand slam. Pelfrey isn’t good enough to overcome, at least not on a consistent basis, the mistakes the Mets committed last night.

Not surprisingly, much of the focus is on Daniel Murphy, who, after cutting a ball off from right fielder Lucas Duda, was hesitant to throw to Justin Turner at first to nail Dewayne Wise. Murphy was afraid of the runner on third, but Turner had the play in front of him and an easier throw to the plate.

So, instead of two outs and first base open, Jason Isringhausen was forced to pitch to Stanton. Of course, it is still up to Isringhausen to make the quality pitch to get out of the inning, which he didn’t.

Earlier, there was a poor throw by David Wright that led to a run, and Jose Reyes being easily thrown out at the plate. Maybe the blame goes to Chip Hale for that one.

Overall, the Mets are playing better than expected, but still there are too many times they beat themselves, and last night was one of them.

Duda’s game-tying homer in the ninth inning gave us the gift of hope and exhilaration, of what we’d like things to be, but in the end there again was more maddening than amazing.

 

Aug 02

Today in Mets’ History: The formula that was 2006.

Part of the signature of the 2006 Mets was their ability to strike quickly and a reliance to go deep into their bullpen.

TRACHSEL: Usually good for five innings, until the playoffs.

The Mets scored four runs in the first inning, tacked on a couple of more and hung on for a 6-5 victory over the Florida Marlins in Miami.

Run-scoring hits by Paul Lo Duca, Cliff Floyd and Endy Chavez off Ricky Nolasco staked Steve Trachsel to a 4-0 lead in the first inning. Trachsel, as was his reputation let the Marlins get back into the game.

Trachsel gave up three runs on two homers and didn’t make it out of the sixth before turning the game over to Roberto Hernandez, who worked one inning before the parade of relievers – Pedro Feliciano, Chad Bradford, Aaron Heilman and Billy Wagner – shut down the Marlins.

The Mets did not have an extraordinarily deep rotation that summer and manager Willie Randolph adeptly used match-ups over the last three innings.

General manager Omar Minaya did not keep the bullpen intact in the offseason  – he let Darren Oliver and Bradford get away – which contributed to the dramatic collapse in the final weeks of the 2007 season.

BOX SCORE

 

Aug 01

Today in Mets’ History: Cycling with McReynolds.

For some reason, perhaps because he was quiet and never appeared to break a sweat. Perhaps it was his unemotional demeanor, but Mets fans never warmed up to Kevin McReynolds.

McREYNOLDS: Quiet talent.

However, on this date in 1989, McReynolds hit for the cycle and drove in six runs in an 11-0 rout of St. Louis.

McReynolds’ best season with the Mets was in 1988 when he hit .288 with career highs in RBI (99), stolen bases (21 without being caught), and hit 27 homers.

Originally signed by San Diego, McReynolds was traded to the Mets in a deal that sent Kevin Mitchell to the Padres. The Mets traded McReynolds to Kansas City in 1991 in a multi-year deal that brought Bret Saberhagen to the Mets. In 1994, the Royals traded McReynolds back to the Mets for Vince Coleman.

So, you can see McReynolds was a magnet for players carrying “questionable’’ baggage.

McREYNOLDS CAREER

McREYNOLDS BOX SCORE