Jul 16

Niese continues to shine; Hairston comes through.

The more he pitches, the better he gets. Even if he doesn’t know how to grow a beard, he’s showing he knows how to pitch.

NIESE: Getting better and better.

Without Johan Santana, the Mets don’t have an ace, but the closest they have is Jonathan Niese, who won his ninth game Saturday in an 11-2 rout of the Phillies.

Entering the season, it was thought Mike Pelfrey would continue to develop, but this has been a disappointing season for him. Conversely, Niese is making big strides, and beating the Phillies with seven strong innings was one of them.

Also a storyline was Scott Hairston, who homered and drove in five runs in an audition for the right field job in case the Mets deal Carlos Beltran, as they are likely to do.

Hairston was a late starter after Beltran came down with flu like symptoms. Beltran could sit again Sunday. Manager Terry Collins gave Hairston notice as soon as he got to the park, and unlike Jerry Manuel, didn’t wait until game time to make a decision. Hairston said that’s key for a role player.

“I found out I was in the lineup right away. It gave me a couple of hours to prepare,’’ Hairston said. “I’ve played in this role for the last few years. It’s a very difficult role. I rely on that experience.’’

While Beltran said he wants to play out his career with the Mets, it is expected the team will trade him as this is the final year of his contract, one that doesn’t offer arbitration which would give them compensatory draft picks.

Jul 16

Today in Mets’ History: Mets beat Cubs again in key ’69 Series at Wrigley.

Things got a little hotter and tighter in the National League East as the Mets won again at Chicago on this date in 1969.

Tommie Agee, Art Shamsky and Al Weis all homered as the Mets won, 9-5, to move within 3.5 games of the first-place Cubs.

BOX SCORE

The Mets took a 6-0 lead after two innings, but after the Cubs came back with four in the second against Don Cardwell, they pulled away for the victory.

Jul 15

Would sweeping the Phillies make a difference regarding Beltran?

Even should the Mets sweep the Phillies, I’m not buying it will have a great impact on what Sandy Alderson does  with Carlos Beltran. If he gets a deal, he’ll take it, regardless of where the Mets are in the standings.

Make no mistake, the Mets are in the rebuilding mode Alderson vowed when he came to town. The Mets are playing better than anticipated, which has shed a different light on things in the eyes of the fans, but hasn’t altered Alderson’s plan.

The trade of Francisco Rodriguez, and the possible trading of Beltran, has been met with more resistance than expected largely because of the Mets playing .500 ball and Jose Reyes’ strong first half. Those two things have given the impression of the Mets being a contender, but they still have the same issues as they had coming out of spring training.

Jul 15

Today in Mets’ History: Weis, Gentry beat Cubs.

When the Mets surged into relevance in 1969, the impetus was bookend series against the Chicago Cubs in July.

On this date at Wrigley Field, Al Weis hit a three-run homer in the fourth and Ken Boswell homered in the fifth to back Gary Gentry’s solid pitching to give the Mets a 5-4 victory.

Gentry, the third starter on the staff behind Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, gave up four runs in 7.2 innings. Ron Taylor closed the game for the save.

BOX SCORE

AL WEIS CAREER

 

Jul 14

Reading the tea leaves on dealing Beltran.

Sandy Alderson is working the phones this afternoon about Carlos Beltran. There’s a chance he could be taking more calls than making them.

“Carlos’ situation is well-known, and it’s not surprising given his situation and performance this year that a lot of interest has been expressed,’’ Alderson said. “We have not pursued that interest in great length to this point.’’

BELTRAN: Attracting interest.

As an All-Star, Beltran is probably the premier outfielder and bat in the trade market, so the Mets aren’t completely without leverage.

Where the Mets don’t have leverage, is that Beltran’s contract precludes him from being offered arbitration so they won’t get any compensatory draft picks.

The balance of Beltran’s contract is for roughly $8 million, so the Mets must decide if that’s worth the price to pay to gamble on staying in contention.

Unless the Mets are bowled over, Alderson said he’s willing to ride this out until the trade deadline, and even longer.

While the trade deadline is July 31, the Mets can move Beltran after that in a waiver deal. In that situation, Beltran must clear waivers before he can be traded.

Alderson’s stance is actually a good negotiating ploy. Everybody knew the Mets were desperate to deal Rodriguez, but by showing a willingness to wait on Beltran it’s possible he could force some general manager to blink and offer up a better prospect.

The Giants and Red Sox are the teams reported to have the most interest in Beltran. ESPN reported the Tigers might be players for Beltran.

As far as the Yankees, their primary objective is pitching.  Even with Alex Rodriguez out for at least a month, the belief is the Yankees still have enough offense.

If the Mets go all out in the trade market, they have several pieces that could prove attractive to a contender, including Chris Capuano, Jason Isringhausen, Tim Byrdak, Scott Hairston and Willie Harris.

All have served a purpose for the Mets this season, but all can be replaced in the winter.