Oct 04

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #162; A sadness about the day.

In each of the past two seasons, the Mets faced their season finale with hope and a definable tension. The Mets would either extend their season or see it end in a frustrating ball of fire. They flamed out both in 2007 and 2008 to suddenly face the winter.

There’s none of that today.

This afternoon at Citi Field comes the official death of a season long since dead. It is a parent or relative who succumbs after a long illness. There’s almost a sense of relief at the death, that most of the grieving has been done and it is time to for a new chapter.

The end of a sports season marks a passage of time, and like many passages there’s a sadness because it represents unfulfilled dreams and the leaving behind of something special. There’s nothing quite as sad as the death of dream.

MANUEL: He didn't inspire.

MANUEL: He didn't inspire.


Despite how each of the last two seasons ended, there was hope and optimism this spring in Port St. Lucie. This was Jerry Manuel’s first full season as Mets manager and with it a return of hope this summer would be different.

There was attention paid to fundamentals, which was to provide a security blanket that even if there would be no power the team would somehow score, and with their pitching that would be enough. Surgery was to have healed John Maine’s aching shoulder and Mike Pelfrey would continue his progress.

Most importantly from a pitching perspective, the bullpen, the Achilles heal the past two years, was fixed and was to be stronger with Francisco Rodriguez than it ever was with Billy Wagner.

PELFREY: He took a step back.

PELFREY: He took a step back.


Offensively, Carlos Delgado was back hitting home runs and Daniel Murphy was to be the answer in left field. David Wright and Jose Reyes, the homegrown part of the core, were to get better. Carlos Beltran would simply produce as usual.

The Mets entered the season with a chip on their collective shoulders after Cole Hamel’s choke comments. Yes, this was to be a turnaround season for the Mets, and it was going to unfold in a brand new home.

It didn’t happen that way.

The seasons of Maine, Pelfrey and Oliver Perez were a combination of ineffectiveness and injury, and injury also caused the unraveling of the bullpen. Bobby Parnell was good and bad in a variety of roles, and it remains to be seen whether his psyche is a permanent casualty. Rodriguez was not as good as advertised, and those who accepted his signing with caution were unfortunately rewarded in perhaps being right. We do not know how healthy he is and who doesn’t anticipate unsettling offseason news?

Of all the injuries, losing Reyes was the most harmful as it took away the team’s offensive catalyst. What should have been a few days on the bench turned into a lost season. It’s still not over for Reyes as he faces surgery and an uncertain recovery program.

WRIGHT: Was off before the beaning.

WRIGHT: Was off before the beaning.


Beltran and Delgado were lost for large chunks of time, as was Wright’s power stroke in a frustrating twist. Wright was never with us mechanically this season from a run production standpoint, but somehow he managed to hit over .300. He also managed to strike out over 130 times. He faces a long road in trying to become the player he once was. As far as Delgado is concerned, well, we’ll never see him in a Met uniform again.

Unless the Mets hit five home runs today, they will be the only team in the major leagues to hit less than 100 homers this season. And, about those fundamentals that was supposed to keep the team afloat? We didn’t see them and that is a reflection on Manuel.

There have been several crushing defeats this season, with the first being Murphy’s dropped fly ball in Florida that cost Johan Santana a game. It also represented the failure of Murphy as an outfielder. Only after Delgado was injured did Murphy find a defensive home, and even then he was tenuous.

There were others.

Luis Castillo’s return as a productive offensive player was tempered by his poor defense, with the dropped pop-fly at Yankee Stadium the signature loss to this season.

REYES: The injury that hurt most.

REYES: The injury that hurt most.


The Mets also lost a game on Sean Green’s wild pitch in Philadelphia, a sign the bullpen wasn’t quite fixed. There was also the game in which they blew a five-run lead to Pittsburgh and Rodriguez’s disastrous five-run ninth at Washington. Rodriguez blew seven save opportunities, but was forever pitching on the edge. For good measure, twice in one week the Mets lost games on late-inning grand slams.

No, the bullpen is not fixed.

However, to me, the game that summed up the wreck that was the Summer of 2009 was Ryan Church’s failure to touch third base in Los Angeles. Physical errors happen. But, this was a mental thing. Stepping on a base is as simple and fundamental thing a player can do in the sport and the Mets couldn’t even do that right.

All that misery comes to an end this afternoon at Citi Field. The Mets will try to end their season with a sweep with a win. A win in each of the last season finales could have meant October fun. If they get it today, it will be hollow as winter will still come.

Aug 25

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #126; Santana, Wagner edition.

Big news day for the Mets, with the trade of Billy Wagner to Boston and announcement Johan Santana will require elbow surgery to remove bone chips and will be done for the season. Nelson Figueroa takes Santana’s spot on the mound tonight at Florida.

The Mets will have in the line-up Jeff Francoeur, who tore a ligament in his left thumb diving for a ball Sunday afternoon.

CHAT ROOM

CHAT ROOM

“The right thing now is to let the swelling go down. It’s kind of big,” Francoeur said. “I’m going to try to play through it to the end of the season. If I can rest it for two or three days and then play, I’m going to do it. You might say, ‘Why bother? We only have 38 games left.’ But I came here to play and I want to play.”

Since joining the Mets for right Ryan Church, July 11, Francoeur is batting .305 with six homers and 24 RBI in 39 games.

Figueroa has given up nine runs on 15 hits over 7 2/3 innings in two starts this season.

This is the line-up that will face Marlins rookie Sean West (4-5, 4.70):

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Gary Sheffield, LF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Fernando Tatis, 3B
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Omir Santos, C
Anderson Hernandez, SS
Nelson Figueroa, RP

NOTEBOOK: Oliver Perez returned to New York to have his right knee examined. … Nick Evans and Pat Misch were recalled to replace Santana and Wagner on the roster. … Reliever J.J. Putz, who was supposed to start a rehab assignment in Brooklyn, was scratched, and here’s a surprise, could be lost for the remainder of the season.

Aug 25

Wagner deal complete ….

Billy Wagner gave in on one of his two demands and accepted a deal this afternoon to the Boston Red Sox for two lower-tier minor league players to be named later. In addition, the Mets save $3.2 million, which includes a $1 million buyout for next season.

WAGNER: In tears after learning he'd need surgery.

WAGNER: In tears after learning he'd need surgery.

Wagner was claimed off waivers last week by the Red Sox, but wanted assurances Boston would not pick up his $8 million option for 2010 – so he could test the free agent market to be a closer elsewhere – or offer him salary arbitration. With arbitration, the signing team would be required to offer a compensation draft pick and Wagner thought that would hurt his chances in the market.

Wagner has 385 career saves and it is his goal to reach 400.

The Red Sox didn’t plan on picking up the option, but with reports Jonathan Papelbon might be available in a trade after this season, they wanted to hedge their bets. Papelbon has been vocal in saying he doesn’t believe the Red Sox needed Wagner, but he has idiot tendencies.

The Red Sox do need a set-up guy for the remainder of this season, and if they didn’t claim him, the Yankees most definitely would have.

While the Mets aren’t getting blue chippers, something is better than nothing for a player they had no interest in bringing back. Wagner, who has spent the last 11 months recovering from Tommy John surgery, has pitched two quality innings since his return with four strikeouts and a fastball topping out at 96 mph.

In explaining the trade, GM Omar Minaya said: “Billy, basically, had an opportunity to pitch in the pennant race and we were able to get two prospects for him, and we felt it was the right thing to do.”

Wagner performed for the Mets; he was a positive signing for Minaya. However, he was a squeaky wheel which didn’t always endear him to his teammates. Notably, he called out the veteran position players – of which Carlos Delgado was one – for not talking to the media.

They were offended, but Wagner was right. Wagner was also correct in his pointed criticism of Oliver Perez not concentrating and living up to his potential.

Personally, I always liked Wagner. He was stand-up whenever he blew a save and never failed to answer the tough questions.

Aug 21

Wagner claimed

Major League sources have confirmed lefty reliever Billy Wagner has been claimed on waivers and the Mets have three days to make a deal. If a trade is executed, the claiming team would assume the remaining $2.7 million on this year’s contract and an $8 million club option for 2010 (with a $1 million buyout).

WAGNER: Could he be Boston bound?

WAGNER: Could he be Boston bound?


The Boston Globe is reporting the Red Sox are the team that put in a claim. If true, Wagner, who has spent most of his third season of a four-year, $43-million contract recovering from Tommy John surgery, would serve as a set-up reliever to Jonathan Papelbon.

Wagner’s contract includes a full no-trade clause which he said he would waive to go to a contender. Should the Mets pull him off waivers as they did Gary Sheffield, they will be unable to trade him for the rest of the season.

Wagner struck out two in a perfect inning in his first appearance of the season Thursday.

“I thought he was very good, outstanding life, even in that short appearance,” Jerry Manuel said of Wagner’s fastball, which topped out at 96 mph.

Wagner is a six-time All-Star with 385 saves and a 2.40 ERA on his resume.

There are plenty of team in need of relief help, including Tampa Bay, Florida, Anaheim, Detroit and the Chicago Cubs.

Aug 21

About last night …. take another look at K-Rod.

Last winter when the Mets were pondering Francisco Rodriguez, I and other journalists took a cautious approach, saying his fastball was down and the violence of his delivery made him vulnerable to injury.

K-ROD: Not automatic.

K-ROD: Not automatic.


There’s not indication Rodriguez is injured now other than the normal aches and pains of a long season. But in reality, Rodriguez hasn’t had the work load he’s had in other seasons. The save opportunities are down and he’s had long stretches where he doesn’t appear in a game.

Even so, Rodriguez hasn’t been a walk in a park. Well, walks yes. His control is off and there have been times when he’s been hit hard. He’s averaging a strikeout for each of his 56 innings pitched, but he’s walked 32 and given up 40 hits. In short, he’s been far from flawless.

He’s not been automatic and the odds are he’ll break down before his contract is up.

Billy Wagner threw harder than him last night, but don’t read anything into that. Wagner is already on the waiver wire and the Mets are waiting to see who bites, and there will be interest.