Sep 24

This Day in Baseball History ….

Looking Back

Looking Back

On this day in 1991, the Mets’ Howard Johnson hit his 37th homer to set a National League record for switch-hitters. Johnson will finish the season with 38 homers and 117 RBI.

It has been a rough season for Johnson, who, as with most Mets’ coaches, is getting heat for the team’s collapse.

In particular, Johnson is under scrutiny for the team’s poor power showing, especially that of David Wright, who reached double-digits in homers this month with a pair at Philadelphia.

Wright and Jeff Francoeur are planning to work with Johnson in the off-season.

Sep 24

About Last Night: Another head scratcher from Pelfrey.

Well, at least Mike Pelfrey hung around for six innings. However, with 116 pitches he has to go longer than. By definition, it was not a quality start for Big Pelf, which is another way saying Big Disappointment.

Pelfrey gave up nine hits and walked three, and 12 runners in six innings is constantly living on the edge. His problem in last night’s loss to Atlanta was what it has been all season in that he wasn’t able to minimize the damage and his command was off.

If spring training were to start next month, by default Pelfrey would be in the rotation. But, he wouldn’t be based on merit. The Mets simply don’t have anybody they could plug in to replace Pelfrey, and the expectations are they won’t sign somebody, either. At least, not somebody at the No. 2 level.

If Pelfrey were the only issue, the Mets might be able to cope, but Oliver Perez and John Maine are concerns of the physical variety. Pelfrey had forearm issues earlier that forced him to miss one start, but they haven’t resurfaced. I wouldn’t be shocked if it came out he had been pitching hurt. These hidden injuries always seem to be a part of the Mets’ winter landscape.

If Pelfrey is hurt, it would at least explain his bad season to some degree. If he’s fine, all the more maddening. He took a positive step last year and this summer was primed for a breakthrough. But, he doesn’t seem to have grasped the mental aspects of pitching with his pitch selection. He tends to lose focus and is unable to put away hitters and is vulnerable to the big inning.

No, that wasn’t a cut-and-paste of an earlier post about Perez.

This guy, despite his physical tools, has not developed like Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, but then again, those are special pitchers. I would like to believe Pelfrey will develop as it is not uncommon for pitchers to develop later in their careers.

Still, the expectations were high for Pelfrey and we were singing his praises after a good start. They just haven’t been reached. If he duplicates this season in 2010, the Mets might have to start thinking this is as good as it gets for Pelfrey.

Sep 23

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #152; Pelfrey hopes to salvage something.

CHAT ROOM

CHAT ROOM

Mike Pelfrey gets the ball once more after tonight, so that gives him two opportunities to attempt to wash the sour taste that is the 2009 season out of his mouth and from our memories. Maybe it is possible for him to leave for winter on a positive note, but this is a guy who concerns me.

After last season’s positive big step, Pelfrey has slid back. Maybe not to square one, but not that much better. You’ll hear talk about him losing concentration because of his marriage and child, but that’s only a weak excuse.

Pelfrey still throws the ball hard and injuries aren’t an issue. However, much like Oliver Perez, his pitch selection and execution wander. He loses focus and can’t close out hitters or an inning. He’s prone to giving up runs in bunches. He easily gets rattled. How else can you explain all the balks, including three in one game?

Maddening, is he has these moments where you think he’s coming around, but he has far too many of the other kind. He can be dominant for four innings and lose it in the fifth. He can throw seven scoreless in one start and not make it out of the second in his next.

Pelfrey (10-11, 5.10) has a mind-boggling 7.04 ERA in his last five starts, and has lost four of his last six games. He has been particularly brutal lately, giving up a pair of two-run homers last Friday against Washington to Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Bard. Pelfrey also had the worst start of his career in his last start against the Braves, July 17, when he gave up nine runs in 1/3 innings.

Lifetime, he is 2-4 with a 6.36 ERA in eight starts against the Braves. The Mets have lost 12 of their past 15 games.

Just a reminder, I don’t know what kind of Internet access I’ll have tonight, but will do my best.

Sep 23

Tonight’s line-up ….

Salvage is a word I’ve used more than a few times this season. I’ll use it again tonight as that’s what the Mets will attempt to do against the Braves. They’ve lost the first two in this series and seven straight against the Braves.

Here’s the line-up Mike Pelfrey hopes will score him enough runs to dig himself out of whatever hole he gets into tonight:

Angel Pagan, LF
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Carlos Beltran, CF
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Brian Schneider, C
Anderson Hernandez, SS
Mike Pelfrey, RP

NOTE: Pelfrey is 0-2 with an 8.74 ERA in his two starts this season against the Braves.

Sep 23

Help is not coming ….

By all reported accounts, the Mets don’t expect to be big players in the off-season FA market. Read that as follows: No John Lackey, no big name power bat, no dramatic improvement.

The Mets front office will continue to say things like “we’ll look for the best fit,” and “if it makes sense, we’ll do something,” but essentially, not much will change from this year’s team and the one the team will throw out there next year.

Mets likely to go minimum wage in getting help.

Mets likely to go minimum wage in getting help.


So, here’s the strategy the best I can see:

Catcher: A Josh Thole and Omir Santos platoon.

First base: Daniel Murphy with Carlos Delgado not returning.

Second base: Luis Castillo because the team won’t be able to unload his contract.

Shortstop: Hoping for a healthy return by Jose Reyes.

Third base: Hoping for David Wright to rediscover his power stroke.

Left field: Here’s where they might attempt to sign a middle-tier player, but don’t be surprised if Angel Pagan is out there.

Center field: Hoping for a full and healthy season from Carlos Beltran.

Right field: Jeff Francoeur could amount to their biggest signing.

No. 1 starter: The return of a healthy Johan Santana.

No. 2 starter: Hoping Mike Pelfrey rebounds.

No. 3 starter: Hoping for a healthy return of Oliver Perez.

No. 4 starter: Hoping for a healthy return of John Maine.

No. 5 starter: Wide open. Bobby Parnell could get another chance. Don’t be surprised if they go for a middle-of-the-road starter and slot him in at No. 3 and move everybody back.

Set-up reliever: I was probably wrong about Putz. With his option they won’t bite on him. Could go with Parnell if he doesn’t start.

Other relievers: Will bring back Pedro Feliciano. I can see them bringing back Sean Green.

Bench: Should re-sign Alex Cora and will likely bring back Fernando Tatis.

So, essentially, the Mets will take the approach injuries were the primary cause for this season’s blowout and they’ll hope for the best in everybody coming back healthy. Pitching is a concern, so that’s where they’ll spend their attention in the FA market. However, they aren’t likely to splurge.