Oct 21

Commentary: Give the kids a chance.

Kunz: Why not give him a chance?

Kunz: Why not give him a chance?

I remember the conversation with Jerry Manuel as if it were yesterday. We were in Washington and I asked him about Eddie Kunz. (For the sake of the argument, I know he got roughed up).

How much worse could Kunz be than the older arms blowing saves for the Mets? Manuel agreed, and said maybe it was time for Kunz to pitch in a pressure situation. He didn’t get a save opportunity for several days, until Manuel had no choice but to go to him.

The amateur psychologist in me said Kunz’s confidence took a hit when opportunity after opportunity passed without him getting the ball. And, that shaken ego was ripped when he got a chance he would inevitably blow.

Here we are, August in Washington against the lowly Nationals, and the Mets were afraid to go to somebody on their roster they claim to be in their plans.

Fast forward to last Sunday, when the Rays, three outs from the World Series, went with David Price, who is a merely 23. You could see his teething ring next to the rosin bag, but he was out there throwing heat.

And succeeding.

Now, I don’t know how good Kunz will be. I can’t say the same for Bobby Parnell. But, if they are as good as they Mets trust they’ll be, then give them the chance to prove it. That’s better than to throw millions of dollars at Francisco Rodriguez, whom I believe in a couple of years will be where Billy Wagner is now – and that’s being unable to throw.

Spend the money on going after a starter and acquiring some depth in the bridge to the closer role.

Sep 29

Manuel all but official ….

Manuel: At his first press conference. He should have another soon.

Manuel: At his first press conference. He should have another soon.

The Mets were 55-38 under Jerry Manuel, a record good enough to bring him back. GM Omar Minaya is meeting with ownership today about Manuel’s contract. An announcement could be made this week, perhaps as soon as tomorrow.

Minaya on Manuel: “Jerry did a very good job in a tough situation, overcoming injuries to [John] Maine and Billy [Wagner]. … I was very pleased with the job he did.”

I’ve been saying Manuel should return. Agree? Disagree?

Sep 23

Overhauling the bullpen

The Mets blew 29 save opportunities so far this season, and with them, perhaps a chance at the playoffs. Adding a top notch closer such as Francisco Rodriguez would improve the bullpen, but not put it over the top.

Billy Wagner blew seven save opportunities, but even worse was the bridge leading up to him. It was more than just a bad season.

Here’s how I see the pen:

-Billy Wagner: Won’t pitch for the Mets again. No brainer. However, he will get paid $11 million by them, and that will inhibit what they do this winter. I don’t see them paying both Wagner and Rodriguez.

-Aaron Heilman: They’ve resisted trading him the past two winters. They should pull the trigger if they get an offer this time. Heilman wants to start and since the Mets won’t give him that opportunity, they should try to get what they can. If they wanted to give Heilman a chance at being the fifth starter, I’d entertain it because it is clear this bullpen thing isn’t working out.

-Scott Schoeneweis: I can’t believe they gave him three years. (I mistakenly said he was done after this year. He’s signed through 2009).

-Joe Smith: Has his moments, both good and bad. Will be brought back.

-Pedro Feliciano: I’ve always been cool on him for some reason, even when he’s pitched well. I think they’ll bring him back.

-Luis Ayala: He saved a few games. Big deal. I don’t see him as the answer at closer. I do see him coming back.

-Carlos Muniz: Wouldn’t miss him.

-Ricardo Rincon: Ditto.

-Duaner Sanchez: He doesn’t have his fastball anymore. Certainly not a set-up man or closer type anymore. Not a loss if they don’t bring him back.

-Brian Stokes: More good appearances than bad. I’d like to see him back.

-Nelson Figueroa: Feel good story early this season. Very hittable.

-Brandon Knight: Pitched decently. Long man?

-Bobby Parnell: Can bring the heat. Let’s see what he can do in spring training.

Sep 17

In case you were wondering ….

Aaron Heilman wants to be a starter and the Mets needed a starter for tonight. They came up with Brandon Knight.

Why not finally give Heilman his shot?

Well, for one thing, he hasn’t proven he can get hitters out in one inning, much less five or six. He’s only thrown 1 1/3 innings this month. Obviously, Jerry Manuel has no faith in him, and consequently, Heilman has no faith in himself.

Heilman struggled much of this season and he had one chance to piece together his fragile confidence, and that was when Billy Wagner went down. Manuel gave Heilman a chance to close a game and he blew it. Manuel then pulled the plug on Heilman in the closer role.

You want to crush whatever confidence he had left, and that’s the way to do it.

Anyway, Heilman was good in his role for the Mets, but he never seemed to recover from giving up the homer to Molina in the 2006 NLCS. He said all the right things, but something was missing.

The Mets resisted dealing Heilman the past two winters, but I don’t see that this time around. If they are offered a package they’ll bite. They have to.