Oct 19

Reyes: Time to move on.

There’s a lot of swirling issues around the Mets’ decision to bring back Jose Reyes, but it really comes down to one burning question: Can the Mets win with him?

Based on Reyes’ tenure with the team, the answer is no. That the Mets with Reyes are a better team is little doubt, but they are not a playoff caliber team as they are presently constructed. Nor are they a serious contender.  Even if the Mets decide to bring back Reyes, there are too many holes to consistently compete with Philadelphia and Atlanta in their division, and San Francisco and St Louis outside it.

We also know Washington and Florida will be more aggressive financially than the Mets.

And, that’s the short list. Nine National League teams and 18 teams overall had a better record this summer than the Mets. Will bringing back a frequently-injured player – who twice went on the DL last season – with a long-term, $100-plus million contract make the Mets substantially better?


Rebuilding is a long, arduous process to which I don’t have all the answers. I do have the keys, however, and that is strong starting pitching and a bullpen, and defense. Those qualities, which the Mets’ don’t possess, will not be readily obtainable if a bulk of their resources are spent on a speed player with leg issues who will undoubtedly break down during his contract.

I like Reyes. He’s always been one of the more personable Mets to deal with, but that doesn’t make him the right answer, the right fit, at this time.

The trade value for Reyes was highest after the 2008 season, but that wasn’t going to happen because the Mets believed they would remain a contender with a few offseason tweaks. They had Johan Santana fall into their laps the previous winter, but after going through a second late-season collapse and a managerial firing, thought minor tinkering would be enough.

They were wrong.

The 2008 season was the last healthy, full-season for Reyes. It was the last winning season for the franchise, which believed its fortunes would turn in a potential gold mine in Citi Field.

However, there would soon be injuries to David Wright, Santana, Carlos Beltran, Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado. The pitching collapsed as Oliver Perez, Mike Pelfrey and John Maine didn’t develop as antiticpated. Hoped for lightning-in-the-bottle signings such as Pedro Martinez, Jason Bay, Orlando Hernandez and Shawn Green fizzled. There were other miserable signings in Perez, Luis Castillo, Moises Alou, Scott Schoeneweis and Guillermo Mota that made the Mets look foolish and desperate.

The Mets made one GM firing and two managerial firings since Beltran took that called third strike in Game 7 of the NLCS against the Cardinals, who are playing in their third World Series since 2004.

The window slammed shut on the Mets and Reyes.

What we remember and cherish about Reyes was his unabashed enthusiasm and running as an unbridled colt from 2005-08, but he’s three years removed from being that player because of injuries.

Reyes’ stolen bases have steadily declined, and he wasn’t even a threat to steal after his second stint on the disabled list. Reyes wasn’t the same player, and with the competitive part of the season dwindling away, he didn’t run as to risk injury which could have cost him his precious batting title and money in free agency.

That he removed himself from his last game isn’t enough to cut ties with him, but it is enough to get an accurate glimpse of his priorities. Lots of players turn it on in their walk years, and that’s the lasting impression Reyes left us.

His injuries contributed to the fall, but wasn’t the main reason the team fell to its depths of mediocrity and helplessness the past three years.

The main reason was, and remains, its inadequate starting pitching. There are no assurances of a healthy return from Santana or Pelfrey improving, and all five spots in the rotation have significant questions attached, as do the six or seven spots in the bullpen.

Clearly, what Mets pitcher isn’t without a concern, either physically or performance wise?

Wright has been in decline since the Matt Cain beaning, Bay never produced, and Ike Davis missed more than half the season with an ankle injury. That puts questions at third, in left, and at first. Lucas Duda will be getting a chance to play his first full season in right, Angel Pagan regressed in center, and who will play second if Ruben Tejada takes over shortstop?

Where can you look on the field to find solace and comfort, knowing that position is in good hands?

Reyes is only one player, and not a healthy one at that.

To those who suggest the Mets might be even worse without Reyes, you are probably correct. But, we all know the Mets’ house-of-cards finances will preclude them immediately getting better in the free-agent market. And, don’t forget, with or without Reyes, the payroll is to be slashed by up to $30 million.

We also know what passes for pitching in the free-agent market are mostly mediocre back of the rotation answers and there is little help from the minor league system.

Record-wise, the Mets are roughly in the bottom third with few immediate answers. With or without Reyes, that’s where they are, and their only hope of moving up is to use the money earmarked for Reyes and attempt to plug holes.

Because, if that myriad of holes remains empty, so too will be the seats at Citi Field. At one time, Reyes represented the future of the Mets. Now, there’s no future with him.


Sep 15

Today in Mets’ History: Record-wise the Mets were actually better last year at this time.

Last year at this time, we knew the playoffs were out of the question for the Mets, but they were at .500 at 73-73 and trying to salvage their season.

There was a twinge of optimism because we figured there would be a changing of the guard, with a new regime making things right again.

It’s what baseball does. It gives us optimism and hope.

So, we all hoped this year would be better. It would be a rebuilding year, but it would be better than the past two dreadful seasons because new blood would be running things.

I thought for a moment it was possible, the Mets would rally to salvage the season and finish at .500 or better.

It would have been a sign of true progress.

There have been positives this year, but they have been off-set by the inevitable injuries and other negatives. There’s a new regime, but there’s so much economic uncertainty swirling around the Mets that we can’t honestly say things will improve any time soon.

Never should the Mets be playing today to avoid being swept in a four-game series by the Washington Nationals. It tells of how things soured, and underscored the Mets’ inability to get over the hump.

The Mets had several spurts this season, but answered them with several slides. Win five, lose five, isn’t the answer.

Scoring four runs in the first three games of this series, and last night their anemic offense took away from a strong performance from Mike Pelfrey. However, I’ve written “strong performance,’’ from Pelfrey before only to watch him get torched in his subsequent start. In many ways, he personifies what has happened.

The Mets stranded ten last night and 40 over their last four games, and have left 1,558 on the season, tops in the majors. I don’t want to hear about their ability to get runners on base and even score (sixth in the NL). The point is they don’t score enough to overcome their spotty pitching.

The Mets have lost 24 games by one run, which is a reflection on both their pitching and offense. Improving one without the other doesn’t guarantee they take the next step.

I never expected them to compete for the playoffs this year. And, when they made a run and were four games over .500 in late July, you always expected the other shoe to fall.

Carlos Beltran was traded, and the Mets lost five straight at the end of July and early August. They fought back to get a game over .500, then had two five-game losing streaks within two weeks to fall eight under.

A staple of this team has been to rally and play with heart, to show us it cared. They pulled within a game of .500, but lost seven of eight on this homestand.

It is this homestand that made me feel some disappointment for the first time. I thought with the Cub and Nationals they could get over .500 to make a symbolic gesture at improvement.

Win or lose today, the Mets close with Atlanta, St. Louis, the Phillies and Reds. They are limping to the finish and .500 – which is mediocre to begin with – is no longer a possibility. They will be hard pressed to equal last year’s 79-83, and that would be disappointing.

The attitude under Terry Collins is much better than it was under Jerry Manuel, but the talent level hasn’t necessarily improved.

There are a myriad of issues facing the Mets in the offseason that should warn us the road is still long.

* Will the Mets keep Jose Reyes?

* Will Johan Santana be 100 percent?

* What happened with Mike Pelfrey and what direction will he take?

* Can Bobby Parnell be the closer, and can the Mets build a reliable bullpen bridge to him?

* Will they ever get anything out of Jason Bay?

* Will David Wright be a power hitter again?

Those are just the headline issues. There are issues surrounding Lucas Duda, Ike Davis, Angel Pagan, everybody in the rotation and at second base.

There’s also a collective bargaining agreement that makes the offseason uncertain, plus the Wilpon’s financial issues.

Gone is the poison that was Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, but this team still has a long way to go.



Aug 24

Free fall personified by non-slide

The freefall some have been waiting for all season is here. After being blown out last night in Philly for the second straight game, the Mets have lost 17 of their past 22 games. Some were in excruciating style. Some, like the past two games, were simply ugly.

PAGAN: Shameful display.

Nothing was more ugly, or discouraging than Angel Pagan’s non-slide into the plate to open the game.  He was either lazy, stupid, not paying attention or faked out by catcher Brian Schneider. Your choice which is worse.

He should have been benched on the spot. When you stop thinking, you stop trying, and there appears no stopping the Mets in their fall to the basement.

To me the whole night was summed up by that play. He should have put Schneider on his butt. It was the type of play Pagan made two years ago excuses were made for his inexperience. Those excuses don’t apply any longer. Probably, with Scott Hairston injured, Terry Collins had no other choice but to start him today.

Ugly was also compounded by the loss of Jon Niese with a rib cage pull. Niese iitially injured his back last week in San Diego, and aggravated it pitching to Hunter Pence last night.

He admitted he should have said something, but didn’t. Just a dumb, dumb thing to do.

Niese has been in a funk for awhile, with a 6.82 ERA over his last six starts, lasting an average of 5.1 innings. If he’s been hurting even before San Diego, then add another dumb to the list.

The Mets are now at the point with Niese that they should consider shutting him down for the season. Seriously, what’s to be gained by throwing him out there again?

Niese wasn’t the only disappointment last night.

The frustration started early when they stranded five runners in the first two innings courtesy of five strikeouts. All of them looking.

Defensively, this was a spring training game with players over throwing the cutoff men and going to the wrong base.

The only positive coming out of last night was Lucas Duda’s continued hot inning. He was in right field last night where he should have been for the past two weeks.

He’ll be in right again this afternoon when the Mets try to avoid being swept. Mike Pelfrey will have the honors.

I don’t know about you, but I have little faith in Pelfrey today, and with good reason: He has a 7.58 ERA in two defeats against Philadelphia this year.

Here’s this afternoon’s lineup:

Angel Pagan, CF

Ruben Tejada, SS

David Wright, 3B

Lucas Duda, RF

Jason Bay, LF

Nick Evans, 1B

Josh Thole, C

Justin Turner, 2B

Mike Pelfrey, RP


Aug 19

Mets begin tough stretch tonight

The Mets open a difficult stretch tonight with three games against Milwaukee, followed by three each against Philadelphia and Atlanta. They are three games below .500, but could be in the NL East basement by the time the month is over.

Considering how they’ve played most of the season, it would be a shame.

Tonight’s Mets’ lineup looks resembles one of those spring training batting orders sent to Fort Myers. David Wright, Angel Pagan and Jose Thole are the only Opening Day starters in tonight’s lineup behind Mike Pelfrey against the Brewers.

Nothing quite says rebuilding like tonight’s lineup:

Angel Pagan, CF

Willie Harris, 2B

David Wright, 1B

Lucas Duda, 1B

Mike Baxter, RF

Jason Pridie, LF

Josh Thole, C

Ruben Tejada, SS

Mike Pelfrey, RP

Looking at tonight’s lineup, one can envision it being on the field a lot next year, minus Harris, Baxter and Pridie.

The frequently banged up Justin Turner will sit tonight for the fourth time in seven games. Also, sitting is Jason Bay, who is on an 0-for-20 slide.

Meanwhile, Jose Reyes continues to rehab his strained left hamstring. He’s running straight forward, but not cutting corners or going full throttle.

It isn’t likely Reyes will be activated when he’s eligible, Aug. 23.