Sep 26

About Last Night ….

For one game, at least, the Mets played the way they promised during spring training as they rallied in the eighth and ninth innings to severely damage the Florida Marlins’ pennant aspirations.

Three players stood out: Tim Redding, Jeff Francoeur and Cory Sullivan.

* Redding has pitched well since joining the Mets’ depleted rotation, good to the point where he should be brought back to compete for the fifth-starter or long-relief role. Of all the throw-ins into the rotation, he has outpitched Bobby Parnell, Nelson Figueroa and Pat Misch. He also has a strong track record against Philly.

* Francoeur has been a joy to watch since coming over from Atlanta. He clearly likes playing in New York and hustles all the time. He should be rewarded with an extension. Given a full season, he could hit 20 to 25 homers next year.

* Sullivan is an absolute professional. Teams need role players such as him and the Mets would be wise to bring him back, as well as Alex Cora.

Sep 23

Help is not coming ….

By all reported accounts, the Mets don’t expect to be big players in the off-season FA market. Read that as follows: No John Lackey, no big name power bat, no dramatic improvement.

The Mets front office will continue to say things like “we’ll look for the best fit,” and “if it makes sense, we’ll do something,” but essentially, not much will change from this year’s team and the one the team will throw out there next year.

Mets likely to go minimum wage in getting help.

Mets likely to go minimum wage in getting help.


So, here’s the strategy the best I can see:

Catcher: A Josh Thole and Omir Santos platoon.

First base: Daniel Murphy with Carlos Delgado not returning.

Second base: Luis Castillo because the team won’t be able to unload his contract.

Shortstop: Hoping for a healthy return by Jose Reyes.

Third base: Hoping for David Wright to rediscover his power stroke.

Left field: Here’s where they might attempt to sign a middle-tier player, but don’t be surprised if Angel Pagan is out there.

Center field: Hoping for a full and healthy season from Carlos Beltran.

Right field: Jeff Francoeur could amount to their biggest signing.

No. 1 starter: The return of a healthy Johan Santana.

No. 2 starter: Hoping Mike Pelfrey rebounds.

No. 3 starter: Hoping for a healthy return of Oliver Perez.

No. 4 starter: Hoping for a healthy return of John Maine.

No. 5 starter: Wide open. Bobby Parnell could get another chance. Don’t be surprised if they go for a middle-of-the-road starter and slot him in at No. 3 and move everybody back.

Set-up reliever: I was probably wrong about Putz. With his option they won’t bite on him. Could go with Parnell if he doesn’t start.

Other relievers: Will bring back Pedro Feliciano. I can see them bringing back Sean Green.

Bench: Should re-sign Alex Cora and will likely bring back Fernando Tatis.

So, essentially, the Mets will take the approach injuries were the primary cause for this season’s blowout and they’ll hope for the best in everybody coming back healthy. Pitching is a concern, so that’s where they’ll spend their attention in the FA market. However, they aren’t likely to splurge.

Sep 17

About Last Night …. Typical

For those of you fortunate enough to have missed the 2009 Mets season, it was neatly wrapped up in last night’s 6-5 loss at Atlanta in another example of creative losing. Yes, the game was the season in one capsule.

Maybe the only thing that didn’t happen was an injury, which brings us to the bottom line: Injuries are part of the game, but you still have to play the game.

And, for a long time now, the Mets have not played the game the right way.

There was lousy starting pitching, with Bobby Parnell giving up four runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings. For all the talk about the Mets leading the NL in hitting with runners in scoring position, they still blow too many opportunities. Last night, they went 4-12 and left 14 runners.

There was Francisco Rodriguez’s sixth blown save in another adventuresome outing. No, Rodriguez didn’t get much help, and threw Daniel Murphy under the bus when he said “that play has to be made.” Then again, if you’re going to make the money K-Rod does, then pitch better. Of the seven hitters he faced, he only threw two first-pitch strikes. He was behind all the time. Couldn’t the results have been different if he were ahead in the count?

Cody Ross scores the winning run on Murphy's error.

Cody Ross scores the winning run on Murphy's error.


And, there was poor fielding, with Murphy making three bad plays in the ninth inning, including the game-winning blunder when he botched Ryan Church’s grounder to enable Cody Ross to score. He should’ve been given two errors on the play.

“I’ve got to make that play,” Murphy said. “I make it 100 times. I booted it and tonight we lost the ballgame.”

Yes, he did, but as often as been the case this year it shouldn’t have come down to one play. Had Murphy come up with a double to lead off the inning, and he was guarding the line, the horror never would have unfolded.

Then again, if the Mets didn’t leave all those runners, it wouldn’t have mattered.

“We had our chances,” manager Jerry Manuel said of the missed scoring opportunities.

The Mets’ league-leading average with RISP is a misnomer because they are 11th in runs scored. Unbelievably, they’ve had 21 runners thrown out at the plate. Razor Shines needs to be evaluated at the end of the season, too. There’s no telling how many games that cost them.

In addition to guys getting nailed, I can’t remember when I’ve seen so many runners unable to score because the hit with a runner on second was an infield hit or a slap job to left where he had to hold. I’m sure there’s a stat somewhere. Then again, I could go through the play-by-play of every game, but I don’t want to get sick. So, that BA with RISP can be a bogus stat, because if you’re not scoring, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.

Let’s go over some of them.

In addition to last night, there was Murphy’s dropped fly in Florida; Sean Green’s WP to score the game-winner in Philly; the Luis Castillo pop-up at Yankee Stadium; blowing a five-run lead in a loss to Pittsburgh; Church’s failure to touch third in LA; losing two games in one week on grand slams; the triple play to end a loss to Philly; the Mike Pelfrey three-balk game.

There are others.

Parnell should have been left in.

Parnell should have been left in.

However, as bad as the Mets played last night, what aggravated me most was taking out Parnell and not giving him a chance to work out of trouble and develop his presence. Look, I’ve accepted a long time ago the Mets weren’t going to do win this season. It was some time in early August when I wrote the remainder of the season should go toward finding answers for 2010.

One of those questions is Parnell. He HAS NOT shown he can handle starting on this level for several reasons. He gets behind in the count too frequently. He had only nine first pitch strikes out of 20 hitters. But, all that’s part of the learning curve. He also doesn’t have command of his secondary pitches.

I don’t like how Parnell has been yanked around. He went into spring training not knowing his role (reliever in the majors or starter in the minors). After being decided he would be a middle-inning guy, out of necessity he was thrown into the eighth-inning role, where he had problems. Then, it was decided he would start.

The Mets were already cooked when the decision was made to put him in the rotation because of injuries to Johan Santana and Oliver Perez. OK, he has to learn on the fly. That’s hard. But, don’t make it more difficult by threatening to remove him after a bad start.

What Manuel is doing is unfair and hurts his confidence more than getting beat. Give him the chance to pitch out of the fourth. It is the only way he’s going to learn. And, speaking of learning, despite his shortcomings as a hitter, Brian Schneider does call a good game, and maybe he should be the one to work with the rookie instead of Josh Thole. Don’t get me wrong, I like Thole, but he’s learning, too.

The point is, Parnell has been forced to learn on the fly, and when that happens, mistakes will be made. The same goes for Murphy, who failed in left and only went to first with the injury to Carlos Delgado. When you have players out of position, this stuff happens.

Of course, this leads us to another point. When all the players went down, the Mets didn’t have the resources on the minor league level to bring up or to trade for help. The cupboard is bare, and that responsibility is on management.

Things aren’t going to get any better soon, and they won’t until the Mets decide what direction they are heading. If it’s rebuilding and evaluating, they are going to take their lumps. If it is to win, well, that’s not going to happen soon, either.

Of all the things that happened last night, what irked me most was Manuel throwing his gum after the Murphy error. Yeah, he’s frustrated, but he just sent the message he’s disgusted with his team and that doesn’t help anybody.

Sep 16

Mets Chat Room: Game #145; Parnell gets the ball.

CHAT ROOM

CHAT ROOM

Hi guys and gals. I hope you caught my earlier post on Bobby Parnell. If you’ve got something to add, do it here. Would love to talk with you.

Anyway, he gets the ball tonight with no promises from his manager he’ll get it again if he struggles. That’s the last thing he needs. When Jerry Manuel says stuff like that about a young player it can only add to the pressure. When he says it about a veteran, he can handle it better because he knows the ropes.

Anyway, I think Parnell should keep getting the ball because that’s the only way he can improve. Like I said earlier, Manuel’s waffling damages his confidence more than anything the Braves will do tonight.

Here’s the line-up:

Luis Castillo, 2B
Josh Thole, C
David Wright, 3B
Carlos Beltran, CF
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Jeremy Reed, LF
Wilson Valdez, SS
Bobby Parnell, RP

Sep 16

Glad Parnell is going tonight

PARNELL: More on the job training.

PARNELL: More on the job training.

After Jerry Manuel’s song-and-dance about not knowing if Bobby Parnell would stay in the rotation, I’m glad to see he’s starting tonight. I don’t even care if he gets lit up, I just want him out there to learn.

He’s been on the major league roster all year, and he’s pitched with success, albeit most of it in a relief role. But, this is the opportunity for him to learn how to pitch out of trouble if not avoid it entirely.

The point was made last night about diminishing his value like that of Daniel Murphy. I’m not buying because Parnell has too good an arm for the Mets to be thinking about trading him.

I think Manuel waffling hurts Parnell’s confidence more than him getting hammered.

He should stay because these remaining few games is about learning what certain players are capable of in the planning for next year, and certainly Parnell has a better chance of starting in 2010 than the rest of the current rotation, save Mike Pelfrey (who really does need saving).

He should get two more starts after tonight, maybe three, and the larger the sampling the better.

He could get his butt handed to him tonight as most Mets pitchers experience in Atlanta, but that’s better than having it planted on the bench.