Aug 09

Mets Head West With Second Place On Their Minds

The New York Mets balked at trading Bobby Parnell and Marlon Byrd at the deadline, citing the desire to finish as strong as possible.

One Mets’ executive told me finishing at .500 would be defined as a successful season, one that began with many forecasting as many as 100 losses.

COLLINS and F. WILPON: Thinking about second.

COLLINS and F. WILPON: Thinking about second.

How close they come to reaching that objective will greatly be determined by this upcoming road trip.

After sweeping Colorado, the Mets begin a four-city, 11-game road trip starting tonight in Arizona. From there the Mets go to Los Angeles for a series against the Dodgers, then to San Diego and on their way home, stop in Minnesota for a make-up game layover against the Twins.

West Coast trips have often been killers to the Mets, and this one stands to be no different. There’s not an easy game on the schedule, then there’s that fun trip to Minnesota when then would be spent at the time.

“This might be, in my time here, the toughest road trip we’ve had to face,’’ manager Terry Collins said Thursday afternoon as his players packed to board a bus to the airport.

“You’ve got to face the two top teams in the National League West, who are playing very, very good, and we know San Diego has good pitching.’’

The Mets leapfrogged Philadelphia and are one game behind Washington for second place in the NL East. They are even in the loss column. Collins, who has made more than expected with little this year, has his eyes on second place, even if it doesn’t translate into the playoffs.

“I think it’d be huge,’’ Collins said. “I think it’d be an enormous lift not only for the team, because they certainly deserve everything they got, but the entire organization. Some of these young guys have come up and contributed to what we’re doing now. You got to keep battling. Right now we got 50 left. That’s still an uphill climb.’’

Sure it is, but it is better than the last three seasons when the Mets folded after the break. Finishing in second place – or at .500 – is a sign of significant progress, which will have the Mets head into winter with significantly fewer questions than in previous years.

Also, with the Mets saying they have the resources this winter, their situation might be more enticing to several free agents. You never know.

However, complicating their objective is possibly losing closer Parnell to season-ending surgery to repair a disk in his neck and David Wright on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. The Mets don’t expect Wright back during this trip.

Even so, there are no excuses. The Mets had to overcome injuries all season and must do it again as they attempt to play meaningful games in September.

Meaningful games in September? Who would have thought?

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 07

Mets’ Bobby Parnell Faces Surgery

The New York Mets aren’t ready to say it yet, but there’s a good chance Bobby Parnell’s breakthrough season might be broken down. Parnell has a herniated disk in his neck that could require surgery is  a pair of epidurals don’t work.

PARNELL: Surgery possible.

PARNELL: Surgery possible.

Parnell had an epidural Monday and could receive another in a week. Surgery could be the next option if they don’t take.

It is an option Parnell must prepare himself to take right now, because extending this season isn’t as important a priority as in getting ready for next year. Should Parnell rush himself back, or allow the Mets to hurry him, and there’s another setback it could hinder his preparation for next season.

The Mets have numerous examples of where they’ve rushed an injured player. They appear to have a closer worth building around in Parnell and can’t risk losing him to a serious injury by mishandling him.

“It’s just a holding pattern right now,’’ Parnell told reporters. “We’ll see what happens. … I’m going to try that until I can’t anymore. If it doesn’t work, then surgery is an option. If I do have surgery, they said I’ll be ready for spring training next year. It’s just a waiting game right now.

“I don’t want the season to end like this. I want to get back. But I’ve got to be smart about it, too. If I go out and re-injure it right quick, it’s going to set me back even farther.’’

MEJIA SHINES AGAIN: The Mets must be thrilled with what they received from Jenrry Mejia Tuesday night against Colorado.

First, he pitched to the expectations long expected of him, and second, he did so without the bone spur pain that bothered him in his previous start.

Mejia will have surgery to remove the bone spur in the offseason.

In his three starts since being promoted, Mejia has three walks, 18 strikeouts with a 1.96 ERA. That’s far more encouraging than his last assignment with the Mets in 2010, when then-manager Jerry Manuel attempted to force-feed him a reliever’s role. The shuffling back-and-forth between roles eventually led to an elbow injury and Tommy John surgery.

If the Mets just keep him as a starter and let him develop, they would have only wasted time and not a potential career.

FLORES ADMITS TO NERVES: Rookie prospect Wilmer Flores was hitless in his first four major league at-bats last night and committed an error at third base.

Later Flores conceded his anxiousness.

“A little bit too excited,’’ Flores said. “You want to do well. I was a little bit nervous that first at-bat, but I had fun.’’

Fun is only part of it, because with David Wright out for perhaps as long as a month, this is Flores’ chance to make a strong impression.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 06

Wilmer Flores To Make Debut; Bobby Parnell Goes On DL

The New York Mets are finally giving Wilmer Flores his opportunity as they promoted him from Triple-A Las Vegas and will start him tonight at third base against Colorado. Ironically, today is Flores’ 22nd birthday.

The Mets, currently in an overall team-hitting slump, could use an offensive boost from Flores, who is hitting .321 with 15 homers and 86 RBI. The thought of Flores coming close to that with the Mets is enticing. They certainly aren’t going to get production from Justin Turner.

FLORES: Gets his chance.

FLORES: Gets his chance.

To make room on the roster for Flores, closer Bobby Parnell was placed on the disabled list with pain in his neck. Parnell received an anti-inflammatory injection Monday.

The Mets could make another roster move this weekend if Jonathan Niese is activated from the disabled list. Niese, rehabbing from a partial rotator cuff tear, will make what is hoped to be his final rehab start tonight for Double-A Binghamton. If all goes well, he could start Sunday at Arizona.

If not, he’ll make another rehab start.

Here’s tonight’s lineup, the 82nd different one this season, against Colorado:

Eric Young, LF: Has 15 steals since joining the Mets.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Has 20 RBI since July 6.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Has at least one hit in 16 of his last 20 games.

Ike Davis, 1B: Batting .194 (13-for-67) with RISP.

Juan Lagares, CF: Is hitting .303 (47-for-155) since June 5.

Wilmer Flores, 3B: Makes major league debut on 22nd birthday. Are all the stars aligned?

John Buck, C: On a 3-for-28 (.107) over his last eight games.

Omar Quintanilla, SS: Drew 19 walks in July, third in the NL.

Jenrry Mejia, RHP: Will make his third start. The first two were quality starts.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jul 26

Mets, Nationals Heading In Opposite Directions

There’s still a big chunk remaining to the season, but the New York Mets have a chance of, a) finishing over .500, b) finishing in second place in the NL East, c) finish with a better record than the Yankees, or d) all of the above.

It is possible, but also something nobody realistically considered at the start of the season. With a handful of days before the trade deadline, the Mets aren’t going to make a run at the playoffs, but instead have opted to keep a pat hand to ascertain how good they are at the end of the season.

It’s not a bad stance as it gives them a greater understanding of their offseason needs, important since they have close to $50 million coming off the books. Trading pieces such as Bobby Parnell, Marlon Byrd and Ike Davis will only create more holes.

Washington was seemingly given a free pass to the World Series by the national media, but the Nationals are fading fast and the Mets could leapfrog them this weekend, beginning with a doubleheader today.

With the exception of Jenrry Mejia going against Jordan Zimmerman in the first game, all the pitching match-ups favor the Mets.

Not many in the sport are feeling much empathy for the Nationals, who in their first taste of success in decades last season carried themselves with an arrogance that firmly stated “we’ll be back here often,’’ when it shut down Stephen Strasburg.

Instead of limiting his innings piecemeal, the Nationals cut him off at the end and kept him from pitching in the playoffs. That worked out well, didn’t it?

As the Mets attest, the playoffs aren’t a given. They haven’t been back since 2006, but coughed up opportunities the following two years.

I understand the Nationals’ reasoning, just as I understand the Mets’ doing it with Matt Harvey, but there’s a better way than just pulling the ball when he reaches an innings limit. The Nationals ignored the rest of their players and placed more an emphasis on Strasburg than anybody else.

They gave the impression the playoffs would be a given. However, manager Davey Johnson is retiring after this season; Strasburg is having a down year; their bullpen has holes; and the offense has been erratic.

The Nationals basically dismissed the rest of the NL East, which now belongs to the Braves.

The Nationals’ problems are well documented, as are the Phillies’ injuries. This time next week the Phillies could have traded several key pieces, although they say they are keeping Cliff Lee.

This time next week both could be looking up at the Mets.

Amazing.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jul 24

Jeremy Hefner Trying To Rebound From Last Start

It is amazing how a team starts getting greedy when it starts playing better. For example, had Bobby Parnell not blown Monday’s save opportunity they would be trying tonight to clinch this series with Atlanta.

After being 15 games under .500, the Mets are again eight below. Several times they’ve been here, but unable to reach seven and get on a roll that would legitimatize their prospects of a successful season.

HEFNER: Trying to rebound after mauling by Phillies. (AP)

HEFNER: Trying to rebound after mauling by Phillies. (AP)

Jeremy Hefner, who sizzled going into the break, was hammered by Philadelphia last Friday. Hefner has 13 quality starts to highlight a staff with a 3.20 ERA since May 26. Collectively, the staff has given up four earned runs in the last 36 innings, or since Hefner’s game coming out of the break.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Eric Young, LF: Is 2-for-18 on the homestand. Has .280 average since joining Mets.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Hitting just .244 at Citi Field.

David Wright, 3B: Hitting .350 since the break. Ranks fifth in the NL with a .395 on-base percentage.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Leads the Mets with 17 homers.

Ike Davis, 1B: Hitting .385 on the homestand, but only .191 at home for the season.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, CF: Batting just .192 with RISP.

Anthony Recker, C: Has five homers, four of which have either tied the game or given the Mets the lead.

Omar Quintanilla, SS: Only 1-for-15 on the homestand, and batting .122 over his last 12 games.

Jeremy Hefner, RHP: Is 0-1 with a 5.85 ERA in three career games against Atlanta.

GAME NOTES: Mets are 6-4 in their last ten games. … The Mets have come from behind 22 times to win. … Since Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler combined in a doubleheader sweep of the Braves, June 18, the Mets are 19-12, for the best record in the NL East. Philly and Miami are each 15-14, the Braves are 14-16 and Washington is 14-17. … The Mets’ bullpen has a 2.45 ERA in eight July games. The pen has 13 blown save opportunities. … Scott Rice hasn’t given up a run in 13 of his last 14 appearances. … Eight inherited runners have scored off Scott Atchison, the most on the team. … Tonight will be the Mets’ 74th different batting order in 97 games. … Wright’s next homer will be his 220th, to tie Mike Piazza for second in club history. Darryl Strawberry is first with 252. … The Mets are 7-8 in walk-off games.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos