Apr 20

April 20.10: Mets Notes: Let’s not get carried away.

Easy does it.

It was only one game and two hits, not enough for them to be fitting him for a statue or anything.

The Ike Davis Era got underway in fine fashion last night, bringing with it an electricity missing during the first homestand. There was a lot to like about Davis’ composure and patience.

For example, on the first hit he worked his way back from down being 0-and-2 in the count.

While there was a lot to like, remember it is only one game, far too early for the Wally Pipp analogies.

As much as I enjoyed watching Davis, the real buzz for me can with Jon Niese, who showed poise and guile working out of trouble.

Niese’s outing was the Mets’ fifth straight solid performance from a starting pitcher, one strong cycle through the rotation. As encouraging as watching Davis was, the bigger picture was another strong game from the rotation.

It has to be that way because wherever the Mets go this season is contingent on their pitching.

I’ll embrace Davis, I want him to do well, but he’s not the final piece to the 2010 puzzle.

NOTES: We should see Jose Reyes back in the lineup tonight. Tired, he asked for the night off to rest his 0-for-17 slide. Since coming back from the DL, Reyes is batting .154, which should shelve this No. 3 talk for awhile. … GM Omar Minaya said Carlos Beltran will go to Colorado this week to be re-examined.

Apr 19

April 19.10: Chat Room, Game #13 vs. Cubs: Ike Davis arrives.

The Ike Davis Era was born out of necessity, with the Mets having waived Mike Jacobs, Daniel Murphy injured and Fernando Tatis an unacceptable option.

“I don’t see him as a savior,’’ manager Jerry Manuel said. “I see him as a complement.’’

And, Mets fans will see him, said general manager Omar Minaya.

“We need to get better production from first base, so why not promote the kid,’’ Minaya said. “I talked to Jerry about (Davis’ playing time). You’re not going to bring a kid like that to platoon.’’

Here’s tonight’s line-up for the Mets (4-8):

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Jason Bay, LF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Ike Davis, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Alex Cora, SS
Jon Niese, LP

Apr 19

April 19.10: It’s Davis’ time now.

Tabbed the Mets’ first baseman of the future, that future could be now for Ike Davis, who’ll be brought up from Triple-A Buffalo for tonight’s game against the Chicago Cubs.

While the Mets opted not to take Davis north after Daniel Murphy’s knee injury, several factors conspired into the decision being made now.

Twenty innings Saturday night forced the Mets to bring up a pitcher, Tobi Stoner, to bail out the bullpen, and expendable was the struggling Mike Jacobs, who was designated for assignment.

So, as much as the Mets wanted to avoid force-feeding the majors to Davis, necessity prevailed.
Davis, 23, the son of former Yankees reliever Ron Davis and first-round pick out of Arizona State in 2008, scorched the ball during spring training and hasn’t cooled. Davis is hitting .364 with two homers and four RBI for Buffalo and is riding a seven-game hitting streak.

Initially, I thought Davis needed more Triple-A time, and that might be the case, but as early as it is, there’s a sense of urgency for the Mets and it isn’t assured Davis will struggle at this level. Frankly, he can’t do much worse than what the Mets had been getting at first base.

While there is talk the Mets are rushing Davis, it must be remembered there is no guarantee he’ll be overwhelmed, just as there are no givens he’ll flourish like David Wright, who was promoted after only 114 Triple-A at-bats in 2004.

“When it’s time for him to come up, he just needs to remember to come in and do what he’s done his whole career,’’ Wright told ESPN.com. “I know there are expectations. I know there is going to be a lot of pressure. But he seems like he’s a tremendous player, a great guy, and will do well at this level.’’

With Murphy down, the Mets hoped to fill the position until his return with the platoon of Jacobs and Fernando Tatis. (Frank Catalanotto started at first last night).

“We just felt that we didn’t quite see what we wanted to see in that brief opportunity he was given,’’ manager Jerry Manuel said.

It was obvious Davis would be elevated when the Mets designated Jacobs for assignment rather than option him outright to the minors. In doing so, they cleared a spot on the 40-man roster for Jacobs.

POLL: Too early or deserved? Vote in the Davis poll.

Apr 19

April 19.10: About Last Night: Maine will get another start.

GM Omar Minaya said he’d take one out of three in St. Louis. He got it, but is anybody really happy? They could have won all three with a little bit of hitting. Then again, they could have been swept, too.

John Maine was better last night, but the qualifier is he was better in comparison to his previous two rotten starts. Adam Wainwright pitched a complete game last night with 107 pitches. Maine was lucky to get through five with the 115 he threw.

Maine worked out of trouble in each of the first four innings, which showed some improvement, but gave up a three-run homer to Colby Rasmus in the fifth. How often does a manager pull a pitcher winning 3-0 after four scoreless innings?

If he had to do it all over again, that might have been the way for Jerry Manuel to go last night.

While Maine on a whole was a disappointment again, he showed enough to where he’ll get the ball again. He threw his fastball more, and the more he throws it the harder it will become. He’s still throwing it in the low 90s with little movement. It should get better.

The one thing the Mets have to take out of their 2-4 road trip to Colorado and St. Louis was a definite improvement in the rotation collectively. What they got received from their five they’ll take every time.

Of course, they’ll still come away 2-4 at best because they offense is non-existent, especially with runners in scoring position, hitting .155 on the trip.

Moving Jose Reyes to the three hole isn’t the answer, because he’s not getting on base anyway. Nobody is hitting, including now Jeff Francoeur, whose 10-game hitting streak has fallen into an 0-for-9 slide.

Jason Bay? Well, he’s still on the team, but you’d never know it by his production.

“I’m living what they are watching,” Bay said in St. Louis last night. “It’s just one of those things you go through… I’m just going through a slump.”

Although Bay struck out four times Saturday, he did scorch a line drive that was robbed of a hit late in the game. Given he finally made contact, I thought he would have played last night.

A lot of pressure will be put on Ike Davis when he arrives, presumably tomorrow, as he was in the starting line-up today in Buffalo.

I’m encouraged by the pitching on the trip, but also tempered because it is one time through the rotation. We’ll see what we get from Jon Niese tonight against the Cubs.

Apr 18

April 18.10: Chat Room, Game #12 at Cardinals: Pressure on Maine.

The pressure never ends.

As much as last night’s epic 20-inning victory – anything 20 innings plus is epic – has been written and mentioned as being a catalyst to turn around this sluggish season, it means nothing unless the Mets can sustain.

That means John Maine must step up, perhaps unlike at any other time during his career with the Mets, and pitch big tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets exhausted their bullpen last night for 13 innings, and despite pitching one inning, Francisco Rodriguez was spent after throwing 100 pitches in an up-and-down evening warming in the pen.

If a starter won’t throw the next day after throwing 100 pitches, the same could be for Rodriguez tonight.

Maine, who seems to hyperventilate around the third or fourth inning, needs at least six, better seven innings tonight. He needs it for a lot of reasons, including to silence the Dillon Gee whispers.

You see, Maine isn’t pitching tonight to save the bullpen as much as he is his spot in the rotation. While it is likely Maine, barring a disaster, will get another start after this, manager Jerry Manuel has done nothing to dispel the speculation.

Aware of ramifications of a third hammering, Maine went to the videotape to look at his mechanics and pitch selection from 2007, when he won 15 games. Fundamentally, Maine concluded if he’s going down it would be with his fastball, which has atrophied after falling in love with his off-speed and breaking balls.

“I’m fine, my shoulder is fine,’’ Maine said after the Colorado debacle. “ I know the No. 1 priority is to get back and throw my fastball. That’s what I’m going to do in my bullpen. That’s what I’m going to do in my next start I’m going to get back to where I was.’’

Maine looked at everything from wind-up to delivery to release point and said he’s going back to his 2007 delivery and with it, hopefully that year’s fastball. Where Maine once touched the radar gun at 94 mph, he topped out at 91 in his last start, Tuesday night’s meltdown in Colorado.

“I’m just going to go back to that delivery, going back to throwing the fastball,’’ Maine said. “Hopefully it turns out fine. I may get hit, but, you know, at least I know I’m going out there, getting beat with my best pitch and not my second and third pitch.’’

Maine, 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA, has given up 12 runs in eight innings in his two starts, including eight runs in three innings at Colorado Tuesday.

“It’s hard. I’m doing my stuff in between starts,” Maine said. “I’m doing the right things. I just can’t put it together. … This is awful right now.”

****

Tonight’s line-up for the Mets (4-7):

Jose Reyes, SS
Alex Cora, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Frank Catalanotto, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Gary Matthews, CF
Rod Barajas, C
Angel Pagan, LF
John Maine, RP

NOTES: Mike Jacobs was designated for assignment to make room for reliever Tobi Stoner, who was brought up to bolster their depleted bullpen. It’s obvious the Mets won’t go with a Fernando Tatis-Catalanotto platoon, so expect Ike Davis to be promoted. By designating Jacobs for assignment, the Mets open a spot on their 40-man roster.