May 17

May 17.10: Chat Room, Game #39 at Braves: Pelfrey tries to stop slide.

COO Jeff Wilpon and GM Omar Minaya met with manager Jerry Manuel prior to tonight’s game at Atlanta.

“I didn’t come here to fire anybody,” Wilpon said. “If I was going to make a change that quick I would have done something last year.”

According to all parties, the meeting was about how to improve what’s there with the present pieces. However, the whispers of Manuel’s job security will continue until the Mets give them reason to stop, and their play on the road isn’t it, where they are 1-8 in May and 4-12 overall, the latter a NL worst.

The Mets are coming off being swept out of Florida in four games by the Marlins. They’ve also lost five straight and 11 out of 15 games to go from first to worst in the NL East.

“We’ve got to get some things straightened out,” said Manuel, the master of the obvious. “We have to make decisions and find the pieces that can get it done.”

One aspect of the team not getting it done has been the starting pitching, which has gone 15 straight games without a win. Mike Pelfrey, despite his hot start, is now part of the slide. Pelfrey won his first four starts while posting a 0.72 ERA, but has gone 0-1 with a 6.88 ERA in his last three starts.

Pelfrey is coming off a 119-pitch no-decision against Washington in which he went 5 2/3 innings, giving up four runs and seven hits.

With Oliver Perez not getting out of the fourth Friday night – and subsequently dropped from the rotation – and Jon Niese leaving in the third inning yesterday with a right hamstring injury, the Mets bullpen has been severely taxed.

The Mets are expected to dip into the minor leagues for a starter Wednesday in Washington and go with Hisanori Takahashi Friday night against the Yankees at Citi Field.

Here’s tonight’s line-up:

Jose Reyes, SS
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jason Bay, LF
Chris Carter, RF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Gary Matthews, CF
Mike Pelfrey, RP

NOTEBOOK: Reliever Ryota Igarashi (left hamstring strain) continues his rehab assignment tonight at Class A St. Lucie. Barring a setback, he will pitch back-to-back games for Class AAA Buffalo Thursday and Friday and then be activated. …. Reliever Kiko Calero, who at one time looked like he’d make the major league roster coming out of spring training, was released by Buffalo.

Apr 29

April 29.10: Hope they don’t leave home without them.

The Mets wish they were playing the Phillies today. When you’re hot you don’t want to stop. Instead, they are off basking in the excitement of a 9-1 homestand.

When it began they were 4-8 and staring into irrelevancy in the National League. Today they are in first place and will take a half-game lead into Philadelphia Friday evening.

A lot of good things happened over the past week-and-a-half. Here are the nine most important trends and player developments, one for each victory:

Taking advantage: The Mets ran into three opponents who weren’t at the top of their games, but it would be unfair to say they beat up on bad teams. The Mets did what good teams are supposed to do, which is to pounce on the opposition when it is down. It’s not the Mets’ fault the Braves don’t know the infield fly rule. Too often last year the Mets didn’t take advantage of opportunities presented of them, but this time they went for the throat, which is the right mentality heading into Philadelphia.

The pitching: The starters have been particularly stingy, even Oliver Perez in terms of giving up runs. Still, Perez, John Maine and Jon Niese haven’t been able to go deep into games, but have been picked up by the bullpen. It can’t continue this way for the starters, but for now the bullpen is holding up to the strain.

John Maine: Wherever the Mets go this season, their GPS will be their rotation. Maine had been struggling, running his pitch count into the 100s while barely lasting five innings. Removed from his last start with spasms in his left arm, Maine recovered yesterday on a chilly afternoon to pitch into the seventh and earn his first victory of the season. He was on the verge of losing his spot in the rotation, but there’s now reason for optimism.

Mike Pelfrey: Pelfrey has been stellar all season, but had a rocky go of it in his last start with ten base runners through five innings. Yes, there was mumbling of this being “the same old Pelfrey,’’ but instead he pitched out of trouble with no runs scored. Not pitching well but finding a way to win is taking it to the next level.

Pedro Feliciano: The season began with a myriad of questions, not the least of which was the eighth-inning set-up role. Feliciano has been nearly untouchable giving up one run all season. During the homestand he appeared in five games and gave up one hit in 4 1/3 innings.

Fernando Nieve: The man with the rubber arm, Nieve appeared in six games during the homestand and worked 5 1/3 scoreless innings. He’s given up only five runs all season in 14 appearances, with three of them coming in one game at Colorado. He might get burned out, but for now he has proven to be reliable and durable.

Hisanori Takahashi: As Perez continues to frustrate, the Mets might have found a possible fill-in should they need to bump him a turn. Takahashi worked 3 1/3 innings in relief of Perez on Tuesday. He has 21 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings on the season.

David Wright: You knew he was going to hit eventually, and he snapped out of a funk against the Dodgers getting hot just in time for the Phillies. In the second game of the doubleheader Wright snapped a string of strikeouts in 13 consecutive games with three hits and four RBI. While it is premature to say he’s on a roll, he’s showing the signs of mechanically getting straight.

Jason Bay: Bay finally homered after 69 at-bats and is hitting the ball hard a couple of times in most games. Like Wright, it was only a matter of time. The professional that he is, Bay didn’t take his offense to the field.

Ike Davis: Davis’ major league career consists of this homestand, and in it he hit .355 with a homer and six RBI. Four of his nine hits have been for extra-bases as he’s given the Mets an offensive presence in what had been a black hole of a position.

Jose Reyes: Reyes hit safely in all but two of the ten games. He’s still not running with the authority he has in the past, but he’s getting sharper at the plate, with 12 hits in the 10 games. It is hard to say Reyes in the reason for Bay’s resurgence because the latter was starting to come around, but it is fair to say most of the questions surrounding the shortstop are being answered in the positive. Only three strikeouts during the homestand.

Apr 25

April 25.10: Chat Room, Game #19 vs. Braves: Pelfrey trying to stay perfect.

Mike Pelfrey might finally be getting it. An uncashed checked so far in his career, Pelfrey is pitching with a sense of confidence and purpose early this season.

Hammered in spring training – Pelfrey said he wasn’t worried because he was working on things – the right-hander has been dominant in April and takes a string of 19 scoreless inning into tonight’s game against the Atlanta Braves.

Pelfrey (3-0, 0.86 ERA) is coming off a strong victory over the Chicago Cubs Tuesday in which he gave up three hits in seven scoreless innings.

“He has great rhythm,’’ said manager Jerry Manuel. “There’s a better presence. He’s staying on top of the mound. He’s ready before the hitter is ready. I think he’s that confident and that in control that he could say, `I’m ready to go and I already know what the sequence is.’ ’’

However, his career numbers haven’t been good against the Braves, going 2-5 with a 6.09 ERA nine starts.

Assuming the game isn’t rained out, he could have a pitcher’s duel with the Braves’ Tommy Hanson.

The Mets are going for the sweep and second straight series win.

“When you win a couple series, you start feeling good about yourself,’’ David Wright said. “You go out there expecting to win.’’

Pitching has been the key. The Mets have allowed two or fewer runs five times in the last six games, and has a 2.09 ERA over the last eight.

Apr 24

April 24.10: Chat Room, Game #18 vs. Braves: Looking at .500.

Beautiful day a Citi Field. Sunny with a slight chilly bite in the air. No surprises, the Mets will attempt to reach .500 for the first time in over two weeks with a win this afternoon behind Jon Niese and their new-and-improved line-up.

Jose Reyes insists he doesn’t mind hitting third – I told him Babe Ruth hit third – and he’ll be there again today. There are changes at second and behind the plate, but everything else is the same.

Mets Line-up (8-9)

Angel Pagan, CF
Alex Cora, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Henry Blanco, C
Jon Niese, LP

MAINE UPDATE: John Maine has spasms in his left elbow which he hopes won’t keep him from missing his next start. He admits to being frustrated, saying, “it kind of hard wrapping my head around this.” … Maine experienced something similar a few years ago in Philadelphia, but nothing this season.

Apr 23

April 23.10: Chat Room, Game #17 vs. Braves: Reyes hitting third.

I am not a second guesser and won’t start tonight. So let me go on record now – and again – before the game to denounce the move of Jose Reyes to the third spot in the order.

It will be the first time since 2005 Reyes will bat anywhere other than leadoff.

I don’t care if Reyes gets on four times tonight, I believe in the long term this move will inevitably backfire because eventually it will force the speedy shortstop outside his game.

Reyes, arguably the game’s premier leadoff hitter, is being asked to take his skills to the third slot under the guise of getting more fastballs for the struggling Jason Bay.

You see, explains Manuel, Bay’s problems stem from not getting enough fastballs, and putting a base stealer ahead of him theoretically will get those fastballs. Just out of curiosity, who was the great base stealer ahead of him in Boston? Was it David Ortiz?

For years, the Mets have been telling anybody who would listen Reyes is their offensive catalyst, that him at the top of the order is what gets the team going. So, naturally, when Reyes is just starting to feel comfortable they move him to a position with the high potential of inducing bad plate habits.

However, Reyes insists he’s not going to do all the things when one plays outside himself after being moved to a run-producing slot in the order. There will be no poor pitch selection, no trying to loft the ball and pull, no trying to hit home runs.

Throughout his career Reyes has fallen into these habits after hitting a home run or two. Willie Randolph used to cringe whenever Reyes homered.

“I’m going to be me,’’ Reyes insists. “I’m going to take it like I’m going to be leadoff. He explained it to me. I said, `I don’t have a problem Jerry.’ ’’

Easier said than done. When thrust into an unfamiliar role it is human nature to want to live up to the dynamics of that role. The No. 3 hitter is supposed to be your best hitter, one with the combination of average and power. It is not a speed position.

For the Mets, that player is a healthy Carlos Beltran, and in his absence, David Wright.

But we’re going to get Reyes, who even under ideal circumstances sometimes swings too long.

It will be very easy to fall into bad habits in this role.

A less dramatic solution would be to move Bay out of the clean-up slot, perhaps to No. 2, or maybe temporarily sixth. Instead of moving the player with the problem, the Mets’ solution is to juggle the entire line-up. Not only will Reyes move, but also Wright, Jeff Francoeur and Angel Pagan.

There are other options, but none would fill the leadoff slot as well as Reyes. So, in essence the Mets are weakening two slots in the batting order with this gamble.

The Mets’ offense hasn’t been doing well, but the team had won three of its last four games. Most of the Mets’ problems when they lose have been pitching related.

If John Maine spits the bit tonight, it probably won’t matter what Reyes and Bay do.

Nobody with the Mets – not just Bay – failed to hit against the Cardinals. So, why didn’t Manuel do this then? Oh yeah, because Reyes said he was uncomfortable in that role.

Here’s tonight’s line-up for the Mets:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
John Maine, RP