Apr 13

Niese tries to right Mets tonight.

It is one thing to lose, but another to give the game away as they did Monday night against the Rockies. The Mets are playing with little margin for error these days, especially against superior teams such as Colorado and Atlanta later this week.

On Monday, Mike Pelfrey threw 113 pitches in 5.1 innings, and the bullpen imploded, highlighted by poor throws from relievers Ryota Igarashi and Bobby Parnell to the plate that kept innings alive.

“The fight is still there, but we’ve got to stop making mistakes,’’ said manager Terry Collins, singing the same refrain heard from most losing teams.

Jon Niese will start tonight and must give the Mets innings as to take them away from the bullpen, which during the current slide of five losses in six games is 0-3 with a 6.57 ERA.

Niese is coming off a rocky start, giving up six runs on eight hits in four innings in an 11-0 loss at Philadelphia.

To talk during the game, click onto the Mets Chat icon to your left.

Apr 13

Parnell’s job in jeopardy; Bay not ready.

The leash could be getting shorter for struggling reliever Bobby Parnell.

Parnell, who fancies himself as a future closer, might have trouble holding onto to the set-up role if he continues to falter.

“Bobby will either step up and do the job or we’ll find somebody else,’’ said pitching coach Dan Warthen, who has not put a timetable for when Parnell must turn it around.

Parnell’s problem has been command and a drop in velocity, likely attributed to a mechanical problem in his delivery.

Presumably, that somebody will be veteran Jason Isringhausen, who has 293 career saves. The Mets signed Isringhausen to add stability to an inexperienced bullpen, and the eighth inning role would best suit his abilities.

Even if Isringhausen is slotted into the eighth inning role, the Mets still have a problem in their pen with only one lefthander.

GM Sandy Alderson said it would be at least two more weeks on the disabled list for Jason Bay. The Mets had hoped Bay would return last Saturday.

Alderson said these types of injuries are hard to predict, but veteran Mets watchers know with their team it is always longer than expected.

Terry Collins said he likes the energy Daniel Murphy brings to the line-up, but wouldn’t say he is going with a platoon system at second base.

Murphy was penciled in to start last night, but the game was rained out. Tonight’s line-up hasn’t been posted.

 

Mar 31

Reviewing the Mets’ issues going into the season.

I hope you’re all doing well, anxious for another season of watching the Mets. While the Yankees faced Detroit this afternoon at the Stadium, the Mets worked out in preparation to play the Marlins tomorrow night.

When the Mets opened spring training six weeks ago, I proposed a list of ten issues surrounding the team that would dictate the course of the season. Spring training only partially answered those questions.

Here’s the top issues surrounding the Mets and the progress made:

Q: WHAT WILL BE THE OWNERSHIP FALLOUT?

A: This is still an on-going issue that won’t be going away any time soon. The Wilpons remain adamant they were played and have no intention of selling the franchise outright. The family is looking for a limited owner, but heavyweights such as Mark Cuban and Donald Trump say they don’t want to pay up to $500 million for what is tantamount to a season ticket with free parking. The Wilpons still want full control and aren’t willing to offer up part of SNY in a deal. The Mets’ inactivity during the winter was emblematic of their financial stress, and although GM Sandy Alderson said the team would have the resources at the trade deadline, nobody is expecting much, especially if they’ll be listening to offers for Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes.

Q: HOW WILL TERRY COLLINS IMPLEMENT THE NEW CULTURE?

A: So far, so good. There was no problem in selling right field to Beltran, although that had a lot to do with the outfielder making the choice himself because of his fragile knees. Reports are positive about the Mets’ attitude and concentration on fundamentals. There weren’t any problems with how the releases of Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez.were handled. The first impression has been a good one, but we’ll see how responsive the Mets are when the grind starts.

Q: HOW HEALTHY IS CARLOS BELTRAN?

A: Beltran will be in the starting lineup tomorrow, but we didn’t know that until the beginning of the week. Beltran’s health remains a concern and despite the move to right field, nobody knows how his knees will hold up and the production the Mets might receive. The only certainty with Beltran is he won’t be back next season and the Mets would love to work a deal to save some of his $18.5 million contract. An interesting dilemma would be what would the Mets do at the trade deadline with Beltran if they are contending and he’s hitting?

Q: WHAT WILL BECOME OF JOSE REYES?

A: Alderson said the Mets will have the resources to sign Reyes to an extension, but would they be willing to take that chance if he’s not playing well? Reyes didn’t have a bad finish to the end of last season, but realistically he’s been a health question the past two years. Should Reyes get off to a great start his price tag will undoubtedly spike as will the attention he’ll draw from teams wanting to make a deal. This will put the Mets in the stressful situation of risking him leave as a free agent.

Q: WILL MIKE PELFREY TAKE THE NEXT STEP?

A: With Johan Santana out, Pelfrey enters the season as the ace. Pelfrey didn’t have a good spring training stats wise, but then again he didn’t last year, either and had the best season of his career. Friday’s Opening Day starter said his goal this summer is to be more consistent. A miserable July might have prevented Pelfrey from winning 20 games last year, but he said he learned from that stretch, and one of those things was not to abandon his fastball. There were still times last year when Pelfrey lost his focus and ran up his pitch count which cost him the chance to work longer and even finish games.

Q: WILL THE REAL JASON BAY STAND UP?

A.: If he does, it won’t be right away as he’ll open the season on the disabled list with a strained left rib cage muscle. It’s not an easy injury to overcome as it saps your power because it slows the hitter’s bat speed. Prior to the rib cage, Bay was complaining about a sore back, and even before then he wasn’t having a good spring power wise. For the $66 million package they are spending on him, the Mets expect 25 to 30 homers a year, not the six he hit last year. With Beltran not a given and Bay out, there’s the concern David Wright will feel the pressure to carry the team as he has the past two seasons.

Q: WAS R.A. DICKEY A FLUKE?

A: Evidently, the Mets believe Dickey is the real deal, otherwise they wouldn’t have given him a two-year deal. Dickey’s knuckler makes him second in the rotation, but there’s still the matter of him proving he can do it again. Dickey came out of nowhere to keep the Mets competitive in the first half, but there’s no element of surprise this year.

Q: WHAT ABOUT THE BACK END OF THE ROTATION?

A: Jon Niese, at No. 3, got off to a 6-2 start, but finished 9-10. Obviously, there’s more learning that needs to be done. Chris Young and Chris Capuano will attempt to rebound from injuries as the No. 4 and No. 5 starters, respectively. Bottom line on the last two: Despite good springs there is no guarantee the Mets will get 25 starts from each.

Q: WHO’S IN THE BULLPEN?

A: Francisco Rodriguez and Bobby Parnell are the only names you’ll remember from last year, which is just as well considering what the Mets got out of their pen. The overriding issue with the bullpen is whether they’ll allow Rodriguez to complete 55 games that would enable his $17.5 million option to kick in. Parnell gets the set-up role. The rest of the pen includes D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz, Pedro Beato, Tim Byrdak and Blaine Boyer. Jason Isringhausen will stay in Florida for an extended spring training, and the Mets will need him to mentor this inexperienced pen.

Q: WHO PLAYS SECOND?

A: The Mets finally did the right thing and cut ties with Luis Castillo. Then he had the nerve to say he didn’t get a real chance. Huh? Daniel Murphy stuck, but as a left-handed bat off the bench. In the end, Rule 5 draft choice Brad Emaus will start. But, winning the job and holding on to it are two different things.

 

Mar 17

Parnell working on slider

Though nothing official has been said, Bobby Parnell will be the eighth-inning set-up reliever, even if he’s not convinced himself.

“Nobody has told me what I’ll be doing,’’ said Parnell before leaving for spring training. Even now, after a solid spring and no apparent competition, he’s not convinced.

PARNELL: The future closer.

“I still feel like I’m fighting for it,’’ he told reporters yesterday. “I would say that I have a better shot this year than I did last year. Last year, everything was still up in the air _ I was still fighting for a spot, I didn’t really know what was going on.’’

Two years ago, the Mets gave Parnell a handful of starts, but he fizzled and then manager Jerry Manuel gave up on him. No regrets, said Parnell, who said he the experience was beneficial.

“It was a good thing,’’ Parnell recently told me. “It gave me a chance to work on other pitches. I know you can’t get by one pitch, that being a 98 mph. fastball that sometimes touch triple digits.

Continue reading

Jan 24

Could be a defining year for Parnell

One of the more interesting Mets this spring will be Bobby Parnell, who hasn’t spoken to Terry Collins about a defined role but said his aspirations of being a starter are gone.

PARNELL: Looking for breakthrough season

“I see myself as a reliever,’’ Parnell said. “I’d like to be later in the game. The seventh, eighth, ninth inning.’’

With his fastball and improving slider, speculation has him moving into the set-up role for Francisco Rodriguez, who has a $17.5 million option for 2012 if he finishes 55 games this season. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine the Mets limiting his appearances to get out from under that contract.

That could happen if Rodriguez doesn’t show up at camp 100 percent.

“That’s where I want to be,’’ Parnell said of his goal of someday assuming a closer role. “If he comes in hurt, I would definitely like to help the team in that role until he gets healthy.’’

Parnell said his handful of starts at the end of the 2009 season – despite his numbers – were beneficial because it gave him experience and enabled him to work on the slider.

Parnell said having a fastball that touches 100 mph. does not guarantee him taking that next step to a higher level. It is trusting that fastball and “attacking the hitters,’’ and working on his command that will improve his game. “It’s being consistent,’’ Parnell said.