Sep 29

Issues, issues and more issues ….

The Mets have as many issues as a year of Sports Illustrated. They also have a general manager, Omar Minaya, poised for another four years to answer them. Here’s what I see as the most pertinent issues facing the Mets.

1. JERRY MANUEL: Will Minaya bring back the manager who took over a floundering team and guided them into contention until the final day? And with him, his coaching staff? The Mets were fading under Willie Randolph when Manuel replaced him in June. With pretty much the same talent, the Mets turned it around. MY OPINION: Manuel should be brought back. This team worked hard for him and hustled. Talent issues beyond his control is why they failed.

Delgado's hot second half could bring him back. Or could it?

Delgado's hot second half could bring him back. Or could it?

2. CARLOS DELGADO: The struggling first baseman transformed into the slugging first baseman shortly after Manuel took over. Coincidence? Delgado says no and is annoyed with the suggestion. But, his numbers were impressive enough to merit MVP consideration. The Mets could pick up his option for $16 million or offer a $4 million buyout. Was Delgado’s second half a fluke? That’s a tough one. MY OPINION: If the Mets believe they are a contender and make some early moves to fix the pen, then Delgado should be brought back. It would be one less hassle. Should they go this route, there should not be an extension. Make him earn it. HOWEVER, if the Mets remain stagnant and believe they are in a rebuilding mode, then give him the buyout and go young. In this case, I would send Daniel Murphy to the Arizona Fall League for instruction at first. Nick Evans, too.

3. SECOND BASE: Ramon Martinez was a spark the final week of the season, but in the end, he’s still a retread player. Damion Easley is a role player I want back. Luis Castillo is not the answer. MY OPINION: Castillo can’t play here. I would try to trade him with the understanding of eating most of his salary. If they can’t do that then dump him and eat the whole thing. If this is a platoon position next year, so be it.

4. LEFT FIELD: Moises Alou can’t go in a time machine. The Mets finished the season platooning Daniel Murphy, Nick Evans and Fernando Tatis, with Endy Chavez coming in late for defense. I can see them doing that again, but acquiring a full time outfielder would be better. MY OPINION: Whatever they do, it should not be Manny Ramirez. I think they should look for a full time outfielder, but don’t overpay because they have more pressing issues.

5. STARTING PITCHING: They have two spots that are in question, Pedro Martinez and Oliver Perez. Martinez was never completely healthy and was lost with the death of this father. His fastball faded and he proved to be a five-inning guy. Half of Perez’s 34 starts were no-decisions and he finished at 10-8, the numbers for a fifth starter. MY OPINION: Perez won’t come at a fifth starter’s salary. With agent Scott Boras, he’ll demand a lot. If the Mets want him, they should make their best offer during their negotiating window and sign him before CC Sabathia sets the market. If Boras says no, then fine and move on. I don’t see Perez ever becoming a No. 1. As far as Martinez, he wants to pitch and I’d bring him back as a fifth starter.

Heilman: Could be time to make a deal.

Heilman: Could be time to make a deal.

6. BULLPEN: With the exception of Joe Smith, I can see a complete housecleaning. Aaron Heilman and Scott Schoeneweis are under contract, but so what? Twenty-nine blown saves should mean everybody is vulnerable. MY OPINION: Minaya won’t bring back seven new arms. I’d look at Brian Fuentes before Francisco Rodriguez as the closer because of economics (they are already paying Billy Wagner $11 million not to close next year). The bridge is essential. I’d give Eddie Kunz and Bobby Parnell a shot in spring training to close. Winter ball might not be a bad idea, either. Brian Stokes, Smith, Luis Ayala and Pedro Feliciano I can see coming back. They’ve listened to trade offers for Heilman before. Now is the time to do it, because he’s gone once he’s a free agent. It’s one thing to think overhaul, but it’s another to actually do it. They have to realistic in that the entire pen can’t be replaced.

This will be the offseason Minaya earns his money.

Sep 29

About Yesterday ….

Perez: No better than a No. 5?

Perez: No better than a No. 5?

Instead of packing to head to Wrigley Field, the Mets will be in today to clean out their lockers. They will drift in throughout the afternoon. The Mets are telling us 11:30 until 3:30. Why 11:30?

Let’s figure it out …

I’m guessing a lot of guys will be in before that and leave before answering questions about another late season fade.

“We failed,” David Wright said yesterday. “We failed as a team.”

That they did. Yesterday, was a microcosm of all that went wrong.

Starting pitching: Oliver Perez showed he’s not an ace. Or even close to it. Perez finished the season at 10-8 with 17 no-decisions. Out of 34 starts, he came away with a no-decision half the time. Terrible. He can’t close the deal. In his biggest game of the season he gave the Mets 5 1/3 innings. Thanks for showing up.

Bullpen: No blown save yesterday, but does it matter? Back-to-back jacks were the difference. For the record, 29 blown saves overall. That is the stat of the season.

Offense: The Mets have an offense? Not yesterday. Two runs on four hits won’t get it done.

The Mets will pack to go home. Many of them never to return to this clubhouse. Who should go and who should stay? More on that today.

Please stay tuned throughout the day.

Sep 26

Name your Dirty Dozen.

``Death by Bullpen''

``Death by Bullpen''

Let’s fast forward for a moment and assume the Mets are in the playoffs. The assumption would have them opening against the Cubs. From what we saw this week, it should be a great series.

However, right now Jerry Manuel has the luxury of using the expanded roster. That won’t be the case next week. He’ll need to pick a pitching staff. I think it will be 12 deep.

Here’s mine:

1. Johan Santana
2. Mike Pelfrey
3. Oliver Perez
4. Pedro Martinez
5. Aaron Heilman
6. Scott Schoeneweis
7. Pedro Feliciano
8. Joe Smith
9. Brian Stokes
10. Luis Ayala
11. Duaner Sanchez
12. Richard Rincon

Sep 26

About Last Night …. Stayin’ Alive.

Here’s the request. Can we not hear anymore comments about choking or not having any heart? Please. After last night, and after the Santana game, it is more than evident this team has enough heart and emotion to win.

What it is lacking is a bullpen and ability to hit consistently in the clutch.

Pedro Martinez showed us all something last night. He’s not the same pitcher he used to be, but his heart is as strong as ever. He somehow found a way to stay out there longer than we all thought. Should the Mets be playing meaningful baseball next week they might need to give Martinez the ball to start Game 4.

He deserves it.

Sep 25

Bringing back Manuel

Manuel deserves to continue.

Manuel deserves to continue.

If the Mets continue their fast fade in the NL East for the second straight season, should Jerry Manuel be brought back as manager?

That’s the question the Mets are wrestling with, but in the wake of news general manager Omar Minaya will get a four-year extension, how can they not extend Manuel as well? Afterall, part of bringing back Minaya was his decision to ax Willie Randolph and how the team responded.

The Mets were sinking when Randolph was replaced by Manuel, but they’ve rebounded and are tied for the wild card. They still control their destiny despite last night’s miserable showing.

The players responded to Manuel. He has their attention and respect. They play hard for him. The bullpen is awful, but players are trying. Nobody is dogging it.

Manuel has shown he can manage this team and he should get the opportunity to continue with better pitchers.