Jul 12

Update on first-half questions.

When pitchers and catchers reported Feb. 18, I posted five key questions the Mets faced heading into the season. Let’s revisit those questions at the All-Star break.

1) Question: What is this team’s attitude?

Assessment: By all accounts, it has been superb. There is a different chemistry in the Mets clubhouse than I have previously seen. The Mets have shown a remarkable resiliency to bounce back from adversity and Sunday’s win is just another example. There have been no issues about a lack of hustle, and no finger pointing. Both Jeff Francoeur and Angel Pagan said the right things about the prospect of reduced playing time as Carlos Beltran is about to be activated from the disabled list. The only sour note was, surprise, Oliver Perez’s refusal to accept a minor league assignment, instead, waiting for the disabled list to leave the roster to work on his issues.

2) Question: How healthy is this team?

Assessment: Injuries sabotaged the 2009 season, and injuries have cost Beltran and Daniel Murphy in the first half, and Jose Reyes for nearly a month. Beltran is due back to start the second half, but there’s no timetable for the return of Murphy, who reinjured his knee while on a rehab assignment. Murphy was playing second base at the time in preparation for a position change. After treating Reyes with kid gloves in the wake of his thyroid issue, the Mets rushed him back from an oblique injury, which he aggravated Saturday. There’s no telling how long he’ll be out. Luis Castillo is on the disabled list and his is another injury where the Mets tried to have him play through. Fortunately, his replacement, Ruben Tejada, has been more than filled the void. Reliever Kelvim Escobar, penciled in as a set-up man, is out for the year with a shoulder injury. The Mets are still trying to find an eighth-inning solution. Oliver Perez and John Maine are currently on the disabled list.

3) Question: What is the status of the three pitching questions, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and John Maine?

Assessment: Pelfrey made a point of saying he understood this trio represented a significant key to the Mets’ success this season. Perez and Maine are on the disabled list, but the team upgraded with R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi. Pelfrey was superb for much of the first half but has been going through a dead arm period and has been largely ineffective over his last five starts. Perez balked at a minor league assignment, but an injury was found that conveniently landed him on the disabled list. He has been sound, and somewhat effective, in his rehab assignment. Look for the Mets to activate him shortly after the break and send Takahashi back to the bullpen. There’s no timetable for Maine’s return.

4) Question: Who is fifth starter?

Assessment: Fernando Nieve, Jon Niese, Nelson Figueroa and Hisanori Takahashi were in the mix in the spring, but Niese won the job and has been very good since coming off the disabled list. Niese has been so good that management tabbed him untouchable when Seattle asked for him in trade discussions surrounding Cliff Lee. Figueroa is now in Philadelphia, while Nieve is in the bullpen. Takahashi replaced Perez in the rotation and pitched well at first, but clearly showed he’s more valuable in the bullpen. The Mets are searching for a fifth starter in the trade market, as there are lingering questions about Perez and Maine.

5) Question: What is the make-up of the bullpen?

Assessment: Jenrry Mejia went north in the pen in an undefined role, but eventually went to the minor leagues to work on being a starter, when he was injured. Losing Escobar went a large part in opening the door for Mejia, who threw hard, but never grasped the eighth-inning role. Bobby Parnell, who appeared to wash you last year, now appears to be the arm having the inside track in the eighth inning to start the second half. Ryota Igarashi was the guy at one time, but pulled a hamstring and hasn’t been the same since. He’s now in the minor leagues. Nieve and Pedro Feliciano were over worked early, and still have heavy workloads. The distribution of work should be improved when Takahashi goes back to the bullpen.

Jul 05

Mets Chat Room; A lot to look forward to.

Game #83 vs. Reds

Let’s face it, if you were promised ten games over .500 and second place by two games at the start of the season you would have taken it and not looked back.

Yet, that’s where the Mets are despite a handful of negatives, which, if turned around in the second half should have them in contention down the stretch.

First, the Mets have been without Carlos Beltran for the entire first half and are expected to have him back after the All-Star break.

Continue reading

Jun 25

Jerry waffles on Beltran

MANUEL: Looks indecisive.

Carlos Beltran said he felt better than expected after last night’s Single-A rehab game in Port St. Lucie. Beltran also said he would like to play in the Marlins series next week in Puerto Rico.

Manager Jerry Manuel waffled on the subject, first intimating it was possible then saying it was unlikely. What he didn’t do was what he should have done, and slammed the door on the issue.

“No, he’s not playing,’’ Manuel should have said. “I can appreciate him wanting to, but we have a plan for him and that would be rushing it.’’

There, now it is a closed case.

Manuel waffles all the time on a variety of issues, many of them injury related. It makes him come across as unsure and uninformed.

The last thing the Mets need is a setback with Beltran, and that’s exactly what could happen if they rush him. Why is that so hard to understand? Why can’t he just say it.

Jun 24

Counting on Bay

Maybe it is the park. Maybe he’s under pressure to perform in New York. Maybe it is the contract. Maybe it is all of those things, or none of them.

But, either way, Jason Bay is on pace to hit nine home runs this season.

I can’t complain too much because after a sluggish start the Mets are winning, and Bay’s average is rising and he never stops hustling.

You know, all this talk about it would be like making a trade when Carlos Beltran returns. Well, the same could be said about Bay if he started to hit with consistent power.

Jun 23

Would you deal Pagan?

I’m throwing this out there for you to mull over, much like Omar Minaya will be asked to do in the upcoming weeks.

PAGAN: Teams like him.

Other teams aren’t stupid, they see what is going on with the Mets rotation and in their outfield. They see, like most of us here, that the rotation, although going well now is not a sure thing. We don’t know how long Hisanori Takahashi and RA Dickey will continue this run. They also have no interest in sending a veteran pitcher to the Mets for the likes of John Maine and Oliver Perez.

The Seattle Mariners are on record for saying they want major league ready hitters; players they can immediately plug into their lineup.

The Mets have precious few of those to offer, but there is one whose trade value is high. Don’t think about Carlos Beltran. With his injury history and salary, he’s not going anywhere.

Continue reading