Aug 24

Can’t see Warthen surviving, either.

The Mets’ starting pitching is decidedly better than it was last year at this time, but I don’t think it will be enough to save Dan Warthen when Jerry Manuel gets the ax, presumably within days after the end of the regular season.

Incoming managers prefer to name their own pitching coach and staff. To have a staff thrust on a new manager is unfair and puts him at a disadvantage. There’s always the underlying thought  if the pitching coach stays he’s really the GM’s guy. The new manager could interview from the old staff as a courtesy, but there are no guarantees.

That coaches’ contracts expire after the season – unlike that of GM Omar Minaya – should make the transition easier. If Manuel goes as expected, it will mean five managers this decade, hardly a bastion of stability. They’ve also had three general managers during that span to further indicate this is franchise without stable direction.

So, they start again with a new manager and pitching coach.

While the rotation has improved, there’s not enough of an imprint by Warthen to make a difference for these reasons:

1) John Maine: Calling one of your pitchers a “habitual liar,” is not good business. Although it turned out Maine was injured, the process of letting him go out there when he didn’t have it to throw five pitches lost the player, and might have damaged Warthen’s ability in the clubhouse. The team had rebound hopes for Maine but he never made any progress and then came the injury.

2) Oliver Perez: While this is probably unfair with the assumption Perez is a lost cause, Warthen did have two years to work with him without positive results.

3) Mike Pelfrey: Kudos for the fast start, some questions for the slide. There was also last year. Pelfrey, despite showing signs of coming out of it, remains an enigma.

4) The Eighth Inning Guy: All season the Mets have had troubles finding somebody for the eighth inning. A lot of guys have pitched there, but nobody has taken hold of the job. While Manuel will get roasted for this, Warthen must share responsibility.

5) Burning out the bullpen: Manuel kept riding the hot horse until he drops. Somewhere, the pitching coach has to do a better job of monitoring the bullpen arms to keep everybody fresh.

Aug 16

Looking for a silver thread ….

The Mets are 10 games behind Atlanta and below .500. They have an upcoming schedule at Houston – which is playing better since the Roy Oswalt trade – and Pittsburgh – which always plays them tough. This is their last chance to make up some ground and bring interest into September.

Frankly, while I doubt they’ll make a real run, there could be some interesting ball ahead.

Their pitching, supposedly the weak link entering the season, has been surprisingly good, and if not for Mike Pelfrey’s July slide it would be good enough to have them in contention. What has been dismal, and has since the beginning of the season has been the offense. Also weak has been the bullpen.

As the season slowly fades into disappointment and winter, let’s take a moment to look at some of the positives through 117 games:

1) The record. Seriously. Last year on this date they were 55-62 and sinking fast. David Wright had just been plunked and would be rendered useless for the rest of the season. They have made improvement and with a full season from Carlos Beltran and a productive year from Jason Bay, they’d be over .500 and within spitting distance even with their bullpen woes. Hey, you take your positives when you can.

2) Johan Santana. We’re looking at 15 victories easily with a little run support. There was a brief four-game stretch when we were wondering about his fastball and whether he was still an ace. Well, he is. There are times when I wonder if he regrets coming here, but he’s the ultimate professional and will never show it. The Mets are lucky to have him, and hopefully the younger pitchers in the rotation are learning from him. Eventually, there will be a decline, but not now.

3) Angel Pagan. He began the season behind Gary Matthews, but has evolved into the Mets’ most reliable offensive performer. He’s the best they have with RISP, has some pop, can steal a base, and has surpassed Beltran as the team’s best center fielder. What Pagan showed last year was no fluke. This is a player the Mets can build around.

4) Ike Davis. He wasn’t supposed to be here until late in the season, perhaps September, but has become one of the NL’s premier’s rookies. He hits for power and should finish with over 20 homers and plays a sparkling first base. Davis has made Daniel Murphy a footnote. First base will be his for years to come.

5) Josh Thole. Another young player who arrived ahead of schedule. The pitchers like throwing to him and he’s not an easy out at the plate. Rod Barajas is coming back, but the position is Thole’s to keep. The time he’s getting now will only help him in the future.

6) Jon Niese. The question as the fifth starter going in, Niese has become a dependable starter, perhaps the No. 2 with Pelfrey being erratic. He’s not afraid to challenge hitters and works quickly and efficiently and with remarkable poise. He’s getting more adept at making adjustments within the game. He was in demand at the trade deadline, but the Mets were wise to say no.

7) R. A. Dickey. The other shoe has yet to drop for Dickey. He’s been impressive from the outset, but none more so than rebounding against the Phillies after the same team hammered him the previous week. That’s hard to do. The way things are going, it wouldn’t surprise me if he led the team in victories before it is all over. The Mets still need to add a starter in the offseason, but not to replace Dickey.

8) Hisanori Takahashi. The numbers are night and day between Takahashi the starter and the reliever. Forced into the starter’s role, he performed admirably before being exposed. He’s great one time through the order and that should be his role. Hopefully, Pat Misch will step in and allow Takahashi to do what he does best.

9) Bobby Parnell. Still a work in progress, but he’s made strides since last season when he was yanked around between roles. I believe Parnell has what it takes to develop into a solid set-up man. The experience he’s getting now can only bring hope.

10) Mike Pelfrey. I mean the pre-July Pelfrey. For two months he was better than one could have imagined, working with confidence and command of all of his pitches. Then came July, but has last two starts have been much better, an indication he might have learned from his slide. Of all the things I’m anxious to see during the final six weeks the most is whether Pelfrey can rebound completely. It would say a lot about his maturation process if he can take something out of his adversity.

11) Ruben Tejada. There’s no questioning his defense, and although he’s not hitting now he showed some glimpses early. The Mets played with energy when he was in the lineup replacing Luis Castillo when the latter was on the disabled list. I think the Mets will be in good hands when he finally takes over for Castillo.

12) Jose Reyes. If nothing else, the Mets finally learned Reyes is a leadoff hitter and nothing else. He’s lost focus at times this season, but he’s overcome his injury problems and the team still thinks highly enough to want to sign him to an extension. Perhaps the focus will always be a problem, but when he’s on his game he’s still a dynamic presence at the top of the order.

13) David Wright. Despite a horrible pace for 176 strikeouts, which must come down, he’s also on pace to hit 24 homers and drive in 107 runs, showing an improvement over last season’s power outage. Wright has been streaky all season, but he’s still the best this franchise has to offer.

Aug 15

Mets Chat Room; where’s the hope?

Game #117 vs. Phillies

Every day I look at the standings and wonder if it’s possible. Can the Mets actually turn this thing around and make this season one to remember?

Not so much anymore.

The Braves won big today and the Mets are 9 1/2 games out. It’s double digits if they lose tonight. With each passing day it is becoming more and more that this is a season to forget.

The starting pitching is getting better, but the offense – despite its talents – is listless and stagnant. The bullpen, as we long suspected, is worn and frayed. There’s no spark. No life. No reason for hope.

The Francisco Rodriguez incident really brings this into focus. The players spoke in cliche about supporting a teammate when they should have condemned the action and demanded an apology. The manager, instead of recognizing the severity of the incident and speaking out, said he was willing to pitch him.

The owners issued an 18-work statement expressing their “disappointment” when they should have been expressing their anger. Then again, ownership hasn’t taken a leadership role all season.

Hope? Hope is not an action plan.

Aug 12

Mets Chat Room; picking up the pieces … again.

Game #114 vs. Rockies

Once again, it is up to Johan Santana to pick up the pieces following another Mets’ loss. This one a crushing defeat when the bullpen and offense conspired to take a win away from Jonathan Niese.

With a little run support, Santana could have 13, 14 wins by now, but the Mets simply don’t score for him. They don’t score for anybody these days. Maybe this afternoon against Colorado it will be different, but there were no such signs coming out of last night’s loss which featured seven straight Mets striking out.

David Wright is in the midst of a 2-for-33 slide and the strikeouts are mounting again. He could get the afternoon off. Jerry Manuel also hinted at giving Jose Reyes a day off, too. Reyes recently admitted his concentration wanders at time and he loses focus.

Reyes’ game, especially defensively, has been spotty lately.

NOTE: I have another work assignment today and won’t be in the chat room until later in the game.

Aug 04

Francoeur: Has anything changed?

The Mets do have a pulse after last night, and it’s that way because of R.A. Dickey and Jeff Francoeur.

FRANCOEUR: Finally delivers

As far as Francoeur is concerned, last night might change his mood and get him going, but I’ve said that before with him. He’s an extremely streaky hitter, but unfortunately for him he’s had too many on the downside this summer. A hot one now could lift the Mets back into contention.

When Carlos Beltran returned, somebody had to sit, but Jerry Manuel force-feeding him into the lineup seems to have backfired. If nothing else, the Mets’ record since the All-Star break should mean something. Manuel had no choice but to cut Francoeur’s time, but his methods weren’t right.

A meeting would have been the proper thing to do. And, to equate his situation to a pitcher going to the bullpen was callous.

Manuel shut the door on Francoeur as a Met, and last night’s heroics aside, it doesn’t change anything. The Mets might be a game closer, but it’s a huge gap. And, Francoeur could go on a tear, but he’s gone after this year.

He wants to play everyday and young enough to do so. It’s too early in his career to assume the role player mentality.

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