Mar 06

Pelfrey ahead of last year’s pace

Last spring at this time Mike Pelfrey was struggling and there was talk – statistically speaking, it was rightfully so – he should open the season in the minor leagues refining his secondary pitches and learning to pitch with poise and guile.

PELFREY: Learning all the time.

Last spring at this time, Pelfrey wasn’t worried.

“I was working on things,” Pelfrey said, notably his sinker. “I knew I had time.”

He’s not ready for his Opening Day assignment – then again, who is a week into March? – but there’s no sense of urgency or concern this year after giving up one earned run on four hits in three innings yesterday against Atlanta in his second spring start.

Pelfrey is pleased with his early mechanics, saying the ball is coming out of his hand with ease and fluidity. He also has a sense of confidence knowing he has a rotation slot sewed up, which is not not to be confused with a sense of complacency.

“I’m confident in my abilities, but I still have things I need to work on,” Pelfrey said before the start of camp. “The thing I need to do is be more consistent.”

Defined, Pelfrey said consistency is for him to not get away from his fastball and lose his focus as he did during a horrid five-game stretch in July in which he gave up 24 runs on a combined 42 hits and 13 walks with only ten strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings. He had a dreadful 10.02 ERA and in three starts failed to make it out of the fifth.

That he rebounded in August with a 1.82 ERA was indicative of his growing maturity. Take away July and with a little more offensive support and better bullpen and Pelfrey could have won 20 games in 2010.

“I really think so,’’ Pelfrey said. “I was able to put that month (July) behind me and not let if ruin the entire season. I learned to not get away from my fastball. That was very important.”

With Johan Santana gone for at least the first half of the season, Pelfrey has assumed the role of ace. This is his time.





Mar 04

Something to like about Collins

One thing that has impressed me so far about manager Terry Collins has been his decisiveness.

I liked how he put a timetable on the Carlos Beltran-Angel Pagan situation, although Beltran diffused it by making the switch on his own before it became a distraction. He’s also done the same thing with second base, saying he’d like to make a decision by the middle of the month. Look for Justin Turner to be one of the first roster cuts because he has remaining options. That will give more at-bats to Daniel Murphy, Brad Emaus and Luis Castillo.

Word is Oliver Perez was on his way out, but likely delayed the inevitable with his strong outing the other day. Those scoreless innings bought Perez another appearance or two, although his chances of making the roster are out of the bullpen and not the rotation.

The Mets are a team in transition and didn’t bring a lot of bodies to camp. That Collins wants to define his roster quickly is a good decision. I like his no-nonsense, business-first approach. It is something this team has lacked.

Mar 02

Impact of Wilpon’s financial problems already being felt.

F. WILPON: There's a Ponzi connection to the field.

Some have suggested the product on the field has not yet been impacted by the Ponzi scheme, but that is hardly close to the truth. In fact, much of what the Mets are doing with their team is directly resulted in the fallout from the Madoff situation.

There were rumblings of the Wilpons being in financial straits for over a year now, with a clear sign last July at the trade deadline when the Mets, within striking distance of the wild card, stood pat and did nothing to improve their club. It takes money to win and the Mets added no significant payroll at a time when they could have improved their team and made a change in the attitude at Citi Field.

A second clear sign – although we didn’t learn of this until recently – was receiving a $25 million loan from Major League Baseball at the end of last season. This is a team, despite a new stadium, that was beginning to swim in debt. If we had known it then, we could have been spared the off-season angst of them not doing anything in the winter.

Sign three, and very significant, was the hiring of general manager Sandy Alderson at MLB’s urging. Commissioner Bud Selig took a proactive approach in getting Alderson hired by the Wilpon’s, perhaps in large part, to be a caretaker for the franchise as it explores minority ownership investors and later a possible sale.

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Mar 01

No need to make move on Perez now

PEREZ: Still holding on.

OK, Oliver Perez was dreadful in his first spring training appearance, but don’t expect the Mets to cut him loose already, despite what most fans might want.

Nobody gets demoted or cut after one appearance, especially somebody who is scheduled to make $12 million this season. Nor should he be.

As much as Perez wants to make the team as a starter, his best chance – slim as it is – will be coming out of the bullpen. The Mets will run Perez out there several more times and won’t make a decision until they are absolutely sure he w0n’t make the team.

That means they could keep him late until March. The Mets’ hope is, as far-fetched as it is, will be for Perez to turn it around to the point where he could attract interest. That’s not likely to happen because a team won’t give up something if it believes Perez will eventually be waived.

As tight as the Mets’ money situation is, they are obligated to pay Perez $12 million this season and are hoping the long shot comes through and he’ll be able to contribute something. I know you’ve heard that before, but nothing has changed, even with that putrid first outing.

Feb 28

Beltran move to right official; best interest of all

BELTRAN: Makes move to right

In the end, Carlos Beltran acted with his head over his heart.

While still believing he could play center field, the 33-year-old Beltran doesn’t think he could play to the level he had grown accustomed to immediately and told manager Terry Collins this morning that it was in the best interest of everybody that he move to right field now and let Angel Pagan play center.

Beltran said he wanted to make the switch now because of his knees, although Collins was prepared to give the veteran until the middle of the month to see if he can still play center.

“I have to think about my health and how to be in the field for the team,’’ Beltran told reporters this morning in Port St. Lucie. “ I believe the best decision is for me to play right field. It’s going to be less active, and I am looking forward to saving my knees for the long run.

“I know if I am healthy and I can play more time in the field, I can help this team offensively, even in the outfield. I know it will be a different transition for me to make but I feel I will be able to go to that.’’

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