Oct 05

About yesterday …. Figueroa throws a gem in season finale.

The Mets closed one of their most disappointing seasons in recent memory with Nelson Figueroa’s 4-0 blanking of the Houston Astros. Figueroa’s gem was the Mets’ third complete game of the season, with all of them thrown by pitchers who won’t be with the team, or don’t figure highly in their plans for next year. That would be Livan Hernandez, Figueroa and Pat Misch.

FIGUEROA: Has moment in sun with blanking of Astros.

FIGUEROA: Has moment in sun with blanking of Astros.


Figueroa is an underdog in every sense of the word and it is comforting to see players like that have their moments in the sun. Still, Figueroa is a journeyman, and the Mets need to upgrade their rotation. He doesn’t figure to be in it, but he could have a chance as a long-man and spot starter.

Yesterday’s season finale also marked a four-hit effort from Angel Pagan as he finished hitting over .300. Pagan fell a homer shy of hitting for the cycle.

Catching prospect Josh Thole, who broke a 1-for-22 slide with a triple Saturday, had two more hits yesterday.

Sweeping the Astros can’t erase all that went wrong for the Mets this year, but for one weekend at least they felt good about themselves.

Oct 04

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #162; A sadness about the day.

In each of the past two seasons, the Mets faced their season finale with hope and a definable tension. The Mets would either extend their season or see it end in a frustrating ball of fire. They flamed out both in 2007 and 2008 to suddenly face the winter.

There’s none of that today.

This afternoon at Citi Field comes the official death of a season long since dead. It is a parent or relative who succumbs after a long illness. There’s almost a sense of relief at the death, that most of the grieving has been done and it is time to for a new chapter.

The end of a sports season marks a passage of time, and like many passages there’s a sadness because it represents unfulfilled dreams and the leaving behind of something special. There’s nothing quite as sad as the death of dream.

MANUEL: He didn't inspire.

MANUEL: He didn't inspire.


Despite how each of the last two seasons ended, there was hope and optimism this spring in Port St. Lucie. This was Jerry Manuel’s first full season as Mets manager and with it a return of hope this summer would be different.

There was attention paid to fundamentals, which was to provide a security blanket that even if there would be no power the team would somehow score, and with their pitching that would be enough. Surgery was to have healed John Maine’s aching shoulder and Mike Pelfrey would continue his progress.

Most importantly from a pitching perspective, the bullpen, the Achilles heal the past two years, was fixed and was to be stronger with Francisco Rodriguez than it ever was with Billy Wagner.

PELFREY: He took a step back.

PELFREY: He took a step back.


Offensively, Carlos Delgado was back hitting home runs and Daniel Murphy was to be the answer in left field. David Wright and Jose Reyes, the homegrown part of the core, were to get better. Carlos Beltran would simply produce as usual.

The Mets entered the season with a chip on their collective shoulders after Cole Hamel’s choke comments. Yes, this was to be a turnaround season for the Mets, and it was going to unfold in a brand new home.

It didn’t happen that way.

The seasons of Maine, Pelfrey and Oliver Perez were a combination of ineffectiveness and injury, and injury also caused the unraveling of the bullpen. Bobby Parnell was good and bad in a variety of roles, and it remains to be seen whether his psyche is a permanent casualty. Rodriguez was not as good as advertised, and those who accepted his signing with caution were unfortunately rewarded in perhaps being right. We do not know how healthy he is and who doesn’t anticipate unsettling offseason news?

Of all the injuries, losing Reyes was the most harmful as it took away the team’s offensive catalyst. What should have been a few days on the bench turned into a lost season. It’s still not over for Reyes as he faces surgery and an uncertain recovery program.

WRIGHT: Was off before the beaning.

WRIGHT: Was off before the beaning.


Beltran and Delgado were lost for large chunks of time, as was Wright’s power stroke in a frustrating twist. Wright was never with us mechanically this season from a run production standpoint, but somehow he managed to hit over .300. He also managed to strike out over 130 times. He faces a long road in trying to become the player he once was. As far as Delgado is concerned, well, we’ll never see him in a Met uniform again.

Unless the Mets hit five home runs today, they will be the only team in the major leagues to hit less than 100 homers this season. And, about those fundamentals that was supposed to keep the team afloat? We didn’t see them and that is a reflection on Manuel.

There have been several crushing defeats this season, with the first being Murphy’s dropped fly ball in Florida that cost Johan Santana a game. It also represented the failure of Murphy as an outfielder. Only after Delgado was injured did Murphy find a defensive home, and even then he was tenuous.

There were others.

Luis Castillo’s return as a productive offensive player was tempered by his poor defense, with the dropped pop-fly at Yankee Stadium the signature loss to this season.

REYES: The injury that hurt most.

REYES: The injury that hurt most.


The Mets also lost a game on Sean Green’s wild pitch in Philadelphia, a sign the bullpen wasn’t quite fixed. There was also the game in which they blew a five-run lead to Pittsburgh and Rodriguez’s disastrous five-run ninth at Washington. Rodriguez blew seven save opportunities, but was forever pitching on the edge. For good measure, twice in one week the Mets lost games on late-inning grand slams.

No, the bullpen is not fixed.

However, to me, the game that summed up the wreck that was the Summer of 2009 was Ryan Church’s failure to touch third base in Los Angeles. Physical errors happen. But, this was a mental thing. Stepping on a base is as simple and fundamental thing a player can do in the sport and the Mets couldn’t even do that right.

All that misery comes to an end this afternoon at Citi Field. The Mets will try to end their season with a sweep with a win. A win in each of the last season finales could have meant October fun. If they get it today, it will be hollow as winter will still come.

Oct 04

About Yesterday ….

Yesterday’s victory over Houston assured the Mets of winning their final series of the season and a winning record at home in their first year of Citi Field. Oh boy!!!!

Pat Misch pitched well again, giving up a run on five hits in five innings before the rains came. He won for the third time this month and is meriting consideration for the fifth starter job next spring. He’s left-handed, which is always a plus. But, remember, before this stretch he was a journeyman.

A 2010 rotation with Misch in it could be interesting, but maybe not in a good way.

After a torrid start, Josh Thole hit the skids, and his triple broke a 1-for-22 slide. It was probably a good thing Thole went into a slump as to not ratchet up the expectations. He does have a presence about him, but it’s premature to say he’s ready.

Sean Green had pitched well lately, but three walks in 1 2/3 innings to force a save situation served as a reminder of his inconsistency this season. So much more was expected of him. The walks, however, brought on Francisco Rodriguez for his 35th save.

Oct 04

Something with your morning coffee ….

I am always thinking about ways to enhance and improve the blog. I like the little snippets This Day in Baseball History and They Said It … I am thinking of combining the two and adding some other trinkets in one larger post. This could work. Tell me what you think. Several small posts or one big post?

This Day in Baseball History

This Day in Baseball History

The Mets were filled with hope on this day in 2006, even after knowing Orlando Hernandez wouldn’t be available for the playoffs. Hernandez pulled a muscle running and would be scratched from the rotation.

The Mets opened their National League Division Series with a 6-5 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Shea Stadium. Carlos Delgado had four hits, including a homer, and Cliff Floyd also homered to power the Mets. David Wright added three RBI.

DELGADO: Big day vs. Dodgers

DELGADO: Big day vs. Dodgers

Guillermo Mota would get the victory in relief.

The game will always be remembered for the relay from Shawn Green to Jose Valentin to Paul Lo Duca that nailed two Dodgers at the plate.

The Mets would go on to sweep Los Angeles, but lose in the NLCS to the St. Louis Cardinals, with Game 7 ending when Carlos Beltran took a third strike on a nasty curveball from Adam Wainwright.

The Mets were filled with such promise then and entered the following season as heavy favorites to reach the World Series. However, the Mets blew a seven-game lead with 17 remaining and their playoff window further slammed shut with another collapse in 2008.

They are a reeling franchise today.

They Said It

They Said It

As this miserably disappointing season draws to a close, there has been wonder of what torturous way the Baseball Gods would end this mess known as 2009.

Said David Wright: “We already had a game-ending triple play. I’m excited to get it over with.”

While it is a season the Mets would love to forget, it will always be one they’ll forever remember.

In addition to that game-ending triple play, there were other memorable moments, such as Luis Castillo’s dropped pop-up at Yankee Stadium; Daniel Murphy’s dropped fly ball that let in the winning runs in a game at Florida; Ryan Church’s failure to touch third base in Los Angeles; a wild-pitch by Sean Green to lose a game in Philadelphia; blowing a five-run lead in a loss to the Pirates; losing two games in one week on grand slams; Francisco Rodriguez’s meltdown in Washington; and Mike Pelfrey’s three-balk game in San Francisco.

BY THE NUMBERS

95: Homers hit by the Mets this season. They are the only team in the majors to hit less than 100 home runs. In contrast, the Yankees lead the majors with 242 homers.

A QUICK GLANCE AT TODAY’S GAME.
Nelson Figueroa has the honor of starting the final game of the Citi Field’s first season today against Houston. Figueroa, a member of the Mets’ patchwork rotation in September, lost five games for the month.

ELSEWHERE IN SPORTS
The Twins and Tigers enter the final day of the season tied. Should there be a one-game playoff, it would be Tuesday in the Metrodome, as the stadium is reserved for the Vikings-Packers on Monday night. … In an odd bit of scheduling, both the Giants and Jets are out of town today. The Giants are in Kansas City, while the Jets are in New Orleans to face the undefeated Saints.

Oct 03

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #161; Looking at Maine, Misch tries to impress.

CHAT ROOM

CHAT ROOM

When it comes to what John Maine did last night, I have to keep telling myself, “it was only one game.’’

Yes it was, but Maine’s starts have been getting progressively better in terms of pitch count and effectiveness. Last night, he gave up one run on five hits in seven innings. Most importantly, no walks. As in zero.

Maine squeezed in those seven innings with 106 pitches. Usually with Maine, if the throws that many pitches it is over five innings.

Maine attributed the success with his slider to a new grip, which again reinforces it was good for him to come back this month.

There will be games when his slider doesn’t have movement or bite, but hopefully he’s been able to come up with a way to get out of those funks. A pitcher only learns that by pitching.

MAINE: Ends season on a positive note.

MAINE: Ends season on a positive note.


“I was just trying to pitch to contact a little more,’’ Maine said. “Walks always hurt me, I’d always give up a lot of walks, and that’s how they end up scoring. This start I just had a better slider, and that always makes your fastball better.’’

Maine’s start doesn’t answer all the Mets’ pitching questions, but it does offer encouragement.

The Mets (68-92) hope for another dose of positive this afternoon from left-hander Pat Misch (2-4, 4.71 ERA) who is coming off a complete-game victory over the Marlins last Sunday.

Misch has pitched well at times in his month-long audition for the No. 5 slot in the rotation next year. So has Tim Redding, but he could be more suited for the long-man role.

Here’s today’s batting order vs. Yorman Bazardo (1-2, 8.23 ERA):

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Cory Sullivan, LF
Josh Thole, C
Fernando Tatis, 3B
Anderson Hernandez, SS
Pat Misch, LP

David Wright isn’t hurt, so I don’t understand the need to give him a day off the day before the season finale. He had a good game last night, so why not keep it going?

I don’t like how manager Jerry Manuel has handled his line-up the last month. September was supposed to be about learning for next year.

Wright has had a miserable month for the most part, but is coming out of it. Too late, of course, but he’s hit well the past week.

I don’t like how Nick Evans has wasted away on the bench. He’s been rushed, but this month was a way to get him some consistent at-bats. Instead, Tatis and Pagan have gotten considerably more time. We don’t even know if Tatis will be with the Mets next year. It is so much more important to learn about Evans.

I’m also not crazy about the batting order. Can we please find a spot for Daniel Murphy and leave him there? Murphy has hit from second to seventh, but he’s never in one spot long enough to get comfortable. And, please spare me the injuries excuse. The juggling is unsettling for a young player.

The juggling also shows a lack of consistency from the manager. There are times to juggle, but not every day.