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

 

Jul 31

Analyzing where the Mets stand today.

If the Mets were truly in a fire sale mode there was more they could have done prior to the 4:00 p.m., trade deadline. As a competitive team that to many overachieved through July, the Mets had plenty of chips they could have played to bolster their depth.

Chris Capuano and Jason Isringhausen both could help a contender, but are the types of players the Mets would need to plug in next season Capuano has been effective and warrants a chance to pitch for a spot in the rotation next spring.

Like all teams, the Mets need a closer, and unless Bobby Parnell makes progress the remaining two months – and during spring training – who is to say Isringhausen won’t get that chance for one more season? His potential to contribute in that forum likely exceeds whom he might have brought it. Isringhausen becomes even more important to the Mets when one watches Parnell struggle as he did this afternoon in Washington.

The one Met I thought might go was outfielder Scott Hairston, who homered twice this afternoon at Washington. He would have been perfect as a spot starter or pinch hitter, which is why Atlanta made a late run at him. But, with Beltran gone and questions persist surrounding the Mets’ outfield, there’s nothing wrong with having him around another year.

There’s something different about the make-up of this Mets’ team that was missing in previous seasons when the playoffs were not an option with two months remained in the summer. Then, there was nothing to play for. Now, they are playing to build a foundation.

Manager Terry Collins has impressed to his team these Mets are being seriously evaluated for 2012. When he said the Mets are trying to win as many games as possible, while the wild-card remains a long shot creating a winning chemistry is not out of the realm of possibility.

With today’s loss, the Mets are 7.5 games behind Atlanta for the wild-card with three teams they must leapfrog.

The Mets probably had a better chance to make a late wild-card run had they kept Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran, but with October a distance away, they made the right trade decisions to prepare themselves for the future in that they freed salary and acquired a power arm to develop.

In the interim, this team has played shorthanded, but with a grit and intensity is worth building around. Hopefully, their offensive deficiencies created by losing Beltran could be offset with David Wright’s return from the disabled list. Then again, we’re always waiting for Jason Bay to hit.

So far, Isringhausen and others have offset losing Rodriguez in the bullpen.

When teams talk fire sales usually there are more bodies leaving than just Rodriguez and Beltran.  What remains intact is something for the Mets to build on, as what we have now is not the sign of desperation we envisioned coming out of spring training.

 

Jul 31

Mets already winners at deadline.

The Mets have already done their heavy lifting for this year’s trade deadline when they unloaded Francisco Rodriguez’s $17.5 million 2012 option and dealt Carlos Beltran to San Francisco for the Giants’ top prospect Zack Wheeler,

Even should Wheeler never make it with the Mets, GM Sandy Alderson has emerged as one of the winners at this summer’s trade market. In ridding themselves of Rodriguez’s option, they’ve gained $14.5 million worth of payroll flexibility (they would have had a $3.5 million buyout had he stayed and not made 55 appearances to finish games.)

That’s not nearly enough to re-sign Jose Reyes, but it does sweeten the pot and offer money for other areas of need, say the bullpen or another starter.

The Mets have additional pieces they could deal a contender, such as Jason Isringhausen, Tim Brydak and Angel Pagan, but it appears they will keep a pat hand for another month and continue with the objective of playing aggressive baseball.

The odds are long for a wild-card, but should the Mets slide further away, they can always deal those chips in a waiver trade. For now, the suspenseful part of their summer is over, they’ve dealt Beltran. The rest of the season is to build on the good feelings they’ve generated for being competitive and savor the victories in the moves they did make.