Well, as it turns out the Mets won’t get Cliff Lee afterall. He’s heading for Texas. It could have been worse, he could have landed with the Yankees or back with the Phillies. The Rangers’ offer is enough for a rental, then the Mets will have a chance on the free-agent market.
I wouldn’t get my hopes up about that, either. That’s when the Yankees will simply write the biggest check.
Even so, the Mets will need another pitcher if they are to catch the Braves, who are in for three to close the first half of the season. The Mets are three games behind, and to get a good feeling about themselves heading into the break they need to win two of three. That keeps them close heading into the second half, which they start off with a killer trip to the West Coast the face the Giants’ pitching, the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers, who’ll remember how they were dusted by the Mets at Citi Field earlier. If that’s not enough, they’ll come home to face the Cardinals.
That Jose Reyes is batting right-handed against a right-handed pitcher, hitting second in the order and saw a doctor today suggests he’s not right.
Of course, they’ll push the envelope with the Braves in town, but had they rested him for the Cincinnati series perhaps there would be these issues.
I think the Mets might have forced it with Reyes. Not smart.
Here’s tonight’s lineup:
Angel Pagan, CF
Jose Reyes, SS
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jason Bay, LF
Josh Thole, C
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Ruben Tejada, 2B
RA Dickey, RP
NOTES: With Cliff Lee seemingly headed elsewhere – a lot of heavy speculation today has him headed to the Yankees – and Roy Oswalt perhaps out of their price range, the Mets have turned their attention to the Cubs’ Ted Lilly. … Nick Evans was recalled from Double-A Binghamton and RP Ryota Igarashi was optioned to Single-A St. Lucie.
If you’ve been following the Mets it’s not hard to read the tealeaves as far as which direction they’ll go in adding a starter to their rotation.
I know a lot of you aren’t going to like this, but my guess is their first option will be Oliver Perez.
Perez’s rehab so far has gone well, and with around $20 million still remaining on his contract, I see them spending that money first because finances are a big issue with the team. They aren’t going to eat the contract and Perez’s contract, injury history and erratic performance make him impossible to deal. Therefore, his real value to the Mets isn’t as a trade commodity but in the hope he’ll find it.
From what I’ve heard, the asking price in terms of prospects is high for Cliff Lee, and regardless of their supposed interest in him over Roy Oswalt, I believe the Mets find it distasteful to offer all that for a rental, and that’s what it will be because they won’t pay what he’ll be asking.
Jonathan Niese will be pitching tonight to push the Mets to 11 games over .500, which would tie their season high and pull them within a game of Atlanta with the Braves coming in this weekend for three games.
Once four games under .500 and floundering early this season, the Mets are relevant again and could be in first place by the All-Star break.
Niese is more than partly attributable to that relevancy, going 5-0 with a 2.43 ERA in six starts since his June 5 return from the disabled list. The Mets are 10-2 in his last 12 starts, including beating Washington last Friday when he struck out a season-high eight and didn’t issue a walk.
What makes him successful?
“I think if I’m able to throw all my pitches for strikes,’’ Niese said. “I think I have a good variety that keeps them off-balance.’’
Off-balance is what tonight’s Reds starter, Bronson Arroyo, has kept the Mets, going 6-2 in ten career starts against them.