May 07

Something must be done with the umpires.

Enough is enough.

Major League Baseball has long had an umpire problem. There’s never going to be perfection, and missed calls are part of the game and always will be, but it seems they are happening with more regularity.

WEST: He needs to be ejected.

Bad calls are one thing, but couple that with arrogance and it is an untenable situation, such as the one last night at Fenway Park, which figured a meltdown by Red Sox manager Terry Francona clearly initiated by two of the worst umpires in the game, Angel Hernandez and Joe West.

When Francona went out to discuss a balk call against Tim Wakefield, Hernandez ran him within seconds. The rules, ridiculous as they are, dictated an automatic ejection. Francona wanted an explanation of what Wakefield did wrong, but Hernandez never let him get a word in.

That’s a quick trigger. Umpires are supposed to be composed and show some patience, but that obviously goes against the grain with Hernandez. You must give the player or manager the opportunity to make his point.

Had Hernandez shown discretion there might not have been the subsequent meltdown.

That’s when Francona lost it and went after Hernandez, only to be intercepted by West, who has the reputation of being a hothead and wanting to interject himself into the game.

West clearly butted into a situation that didn’t involve him as Francona would say later. All he did was escalate the confrontation. There was contact made – six times according to the replay – but it was instigated by West.

Francona will obviously be fined, perhaps suspended by Commissioner Bud Selig, but West will get a pass because MLB doesn’t want to antagonize the umpires union, which, if angry enough, will take it out on the game and be confrontational all summer.

However, something needs to be done about West, who has consistently been ranked one of the worst umpires in player polls. He has the reputation of being a loose cannon and putting himself in the middle of things.

West, you might recall threw ejected two cameramen from Shea Stadium when they allowed the Mets to view a replay of a play at the plate. He’s also the one who criticized the Yankees and Red Sox for their slow play.

MLB must do something to improve the quality of umpiring. It could begin with expanded instant replay, because the objective is to get it right.

But, what I want is for each umpire to be wired so we can hear what goes on in the argument. We will be able to tell who did the instigating. Many of these arguments occur when the umps have rabbit ears and seek out the confrontation.

Having the umpires wired, and held accountable with fines and suspensions similar to the ones given the players, will help calm the waters.

The umpires are supposedly graded every year, but what is done with those who are at the bottom? Evidently not much as they return to show us their incompetence the next summer.

In the case of Joe West, he’s been a example of what is wrong with umpires. It is time the sport ejects him.

 

May 06

Mets Chat Room: Dodgers in town.

Two financially strapped franchises meet tonight at Citi Field when the Dodgers and Mets play.

Jon Niese  (1-4, 4.71) starts tonight for the Mets. He’s pitched well in his last two starts, giving up two earned runs in each. He lost his last start, Saturday, against the Phillies, giving up two runs in 6 1/3 innings.

No surprise in this, but he’s gotten three or fewer runs in all but one of his six starts.

If you’d like to talk during the game, click onto the Mets Chat icon to your left.

May 06

Pagan still ailing; out indefinitely.

They wouldn’t be the Mets without a bit of bad news.

PAGAN: Still hurting. No timetable on return.

Angel Pagan was supposed to be activated tomorrow, but is reporting pain in his left oblique muscle and returned to New York today to be examined. The team said he’ll be out indefinitely.

“Knowing we were hoping that he would be here tomorrow, he just felt that he wasn’t ready for that,’’ Mets manager Terry Collins said today.

Pagan went on the DL, April 22, with a strained left oblique.

Jason Pridie has been playing centerfield, and has done well defensively, but does not pose the offensive threat of Pagan. The Mets’ offense has been stagnant all season, and Pagan has not lived up to the expectations after his break out year in 2010.

Pagan started the season batting second behind Jose Reyes, and the Mets have unsuccessfully used several players to fill that void.

 

May 06

Mets’ lineup: May 6 vs. Dodgers.

Here’s tonight’s lineup against the Los Angeles Dodgers:

Jose Reyes, SS

Daniel Murphy, 2B

David Wright, 3B

Carlos Beltran, RF

Jason Bay, LF
Ike Davis, 1B

Jason Pridie, CF

Josh Thole, C

Jon Niese, LP

COMMENTS: Thole back in the lineup as promised. … Wright still batting third, and that doesn’t figure to change. … Beltran is hot and keeps on playing.

 

May 06

New poll: No real surprises so far; expect more change.

Thirty-one games into the season and the Mets are 13-18, 8 ½ games behind Philadelphia. Only four teams in the majors have a worse record; only three have fewer home victories than the six scratched out by the Mets.

REYES: Flying away with a bunch of others.

About right? Could be worse? Should be better? Post your thoughts and vote in the new poll.

The Dodgers are in for three this weekend starting tonight, and the remainder of the month features three games each against Colorado, Yankees and Cubs on the road, and three at home against Philadelphia.

There’s potential for things to fall further apart before June. They could easily be double-digits behind the Phillies by the time they come in at the end of the month.

Are you surprised by any of this?

If I had been given five games below .500 at this point were it offered in spring training, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have taken it considering the questions the Mets faced.

Things have unfolded close to expectations when you look at the pitching questions; Jason Bay’s injury; the hole at second base; and concerns surrounding the health of Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes.

Realistically, the Mets are about where they should be with their deficiencies. Going in we were told this season would be about making evaluations in preparation for the building that would begin in 2012.

Things would change once they cleared the deadwood off the books.

When I scan the Mets’ depth chart, it isn’t hard to envision up to a dozen new names next spring with the following gone: Reyes, Beltran, Ronny Paulino, Chris Young, Chris Capuano, Francisco Rodriguez, Jason Isringhausen (at his age it wouldn’t be a surprise), Ryota Igarashi, Tim Byrdak, Chin-lung Hu (he could be gone when Angel Pagan returns this weekend), Willie Harris and Scott Hairston.

That’s half the team.

Some, like Beltran, Rodriguez and Reyes could go based on financial considerations, while others like Isringhausen, Young, Capuano, Harris and Hairston could leave because of age and other options. Still others would go because of talent.

Several of these players could help contenders at the trade deadline.

This was to be the year of change, and there’s a lot that could still happen. If it does and the Mets are still five games under at the end of the season, that should be looked at as a plus.