May 11

May 11.10: Finding the right order; Manuel has some thinking to do.

It’s obvious the Mets’ offense is in trouble, with once again last night demonstrating an appalling lack of ability to hit with runners in scoring position.

Jerry Manuel talks about “getting things going,’’ and that includes putting the players in the right position for success.

Clearly, they are not.

It’s time to re-juggle the lineup, which means put Jose Reyes back at leadoff. There are some who will argue he’s still stealing bases now, but that’s more attributable to his legs getting stronger than his spot in the order.

All too often I see Reyes swinging out of his shoes with little attempt at selectivity.

Reyes has the potential to be the game’s premier leadoff hitter. Put him there and leave him there.

The following order is thinking out loud with the hope of generating something until the next need to shake things up.

I like David Wright best hitting third, but his two hits last night notwithstanding, he’s still mired in some bad habits. It has worked before for Wright has struggled and it could work again, and that is to move him to second. Hitting second, where he’d have to protect the runner would help shorten Wright’s swing and hopefully lifting him out of his bad habits.

Because he’s been driving the ball and has the speed element, I’d put Angel Pagan third. And, yes, I fear the mentality of hitting third might do for him what it has done for Reyes. But, unlike Reyes, Pagan has hit all over the order so perhaps the transition would be a little less.

The guy who is really killing the Mets has been Jason Bay. He needs a day off and maybe he’ll get one with the promotion of Chris Carter from Triple-A Buffalo and the DFA of Frank Catalanotto. It makes no sense to bring up Carter unless they intend to play him, but who sits?

Give Bay a rest, time to collect his thoughts, and maybe he’ll be fresher. With that being said, because there are no other alternatives Bay would have to stay cleanup when he plays.

Next I’d elevate Ike Davis to fifth. Davis is one of the few Mets who seems to have an idea at the plate. I would be tempted to bat him fourth, but fear it might put too much pressure on him.

Sixth would be Jeff Francoeur, whose hot start is a memory. He’s another who might benefit from having a day off.

Seventh would be Rod Barajas, but with his slugging percentage it might not be a bad idea to elevate him past Francoeur. At one time I thought clean-up would be a temporary spot, but know the Mets would never go for it.

Eighth, unfortunately, will be Luis Castillo, who is taken out of his spot because the others aren’t doing their jobs. Castillo has been playing well and is the ideal No. 2 hitter, but getting Wright going is crucial.

There are no doubt flaws in this thinking, which, of course, I’m sure you will point out. This is not a permanent solution, but something temporary to jumpstart things.

If you’ve got other lineup suggestions, let’s hear them.

Apr 28

April 28.10: Perez to stay in rotation.

You knew the question would be asked: Will Oliver Perez stay in the rotation? You probably knew the answer, too.

“I’m going to say with Ollie,” manager Jerry Manuel said after last night’s game.

The Mets have few options to go with instead of Perez, who coughed up a three-run lead and didn’t make it out of the fourth. One option, Hisanori Takahashi, who relieved Perez and struck out five in 3 1/3 innings, has proven to be so valuable out of the pen.

They can also dip down to Buffalo for Dillon Gee, R.A. Dickey or Pat Misch.

Any might be an interesting choice for a game, but none can match Perez’s potential when he’s on. It wasn’t that long ago that Perez came up big in a start at St. Louis. The Mets lost, but Perez was strong that night.

It looks like it will be another summer of the Good Ollie vs. the Bad Ollie, but you knew that, too.

Apr 07

April 7.10: Phillies pick up Figueroa.

The Phillies claimed Nelson Figueroa on waivers this afternoon thereby mercifully ending the pitcher’s shuttle to Buffalo. Before we torch the Mets before this, remember his career record and he did get a chance with the team.

I will say, however, that I thought he’d stick as the long man this year.

Mar 26

March 26.10: Figueroa’s story won’t change.

As compelling as the underdog story is, there’s a reason for why he is. Just as Cornell lost last night to Kentucky because of depth of talent, that is also the limitation of Nelson Figueroa’s feel-good story.

There’s a reason why Figueroa has bounced around all these years: His talent it that of the sixth man in a five-man rotation. Every once in awhile he shows a glimmer, but overall the more he pitches the more his flaws are exposed.

Figueroa pitches today not so much as an effort to get Jerry Manuel to change his mind about the fifth spot in the rotation but as he does to audition for somebody else.

Figueroa, 35, who refers as himself as an “insurance policy,’’ has been around long enough to know the score.

“I’m in a position where I’m going out there and throwing for 29 other teams right now,’’ Figueroa said. “Being the insurance policy has its benefits. But at the same time, it’s a frustrating situation. I feel like if I’m given the opportunity to be more than that, I can be.’’

But, it won’t happen with the Mets because there’s always a faster gun, somebody who is younger, who throws harder, who is more a natural.

Actually, Figueroa got an extended look last year because of the Mets’ decimated rotation and went 3-8 with a 4.09 ERA. That included losing five consecutive decisions in September,

Figueroa’s heart, grit and determination is the essence of what sport should be, but it isn’t the reality in today’s game, which is driven by the need to win immediately. Maybe in a town with less pressure, Figueroa might get a chance.

But it would be the same story with the Mets, him passing through waivers, going back to Triple-A Buffalo, and waiting for the call generated by the inevitable injury or calamity in the rotation.

Still, pitching minor league baseball for what Figueroa would make is a better job than most of us will have, earning him $119,500 if he spends the full season in the minors.

It just isn’t the job he wants.

May 08

Niese starts tonight

Jon Niese, at 0-2 with a 6.55 ERA for Triple-A Buffalo, starts tonight for the Mets against Pittsburgh. When Niese considered his record, he admits the promotion came as a surprise.

“It was a shock, but I was real excited,” said Niese. “I had a rough start. You can’t go around that. But I figured things out working on my bullpens, trying to pound the ball in the zone, and I tried to incorporate into my last outing and was successful.”

Barring an exceptional performance that just screams for an encore, this might be Niese’s only start with the Mets for awhile because Tim Redding (shoulder injury) is close to returning.

Redding pitched six strong innings in a rehab start Wednesday for Buffalo.

“I think we’re in a situation where we can now evaluate that spot on a turn-by-turn basis,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “It will depend on how we look the next time around, basically for Niese. This will be a good opportunity for him, but if he’s not quite ready, Redding or another starter down there could take that place.”