Sep 10

Missed opportunities ….

You’re a Mets’ fan, so you’ll watch the final games of another disappointing season. Some will watch with the morbid fascination of a rubbernecker passing a freeway accident. Others will watch because its your team and you won’t see them again until April.

Others will try to watch with an analytical eye towards next year. In that regard, there have been several interesting story lines to watch, but they’ve been ignored by the Mets.

1) Carlos Beltran: The Mets missed an opportunity to try Beltran at one of the c0rners in preparation for 2011. He’s impossible to deal because of his contract and injury history, and Angel Pagan has proven to be a better center fielder. This is being shortsighted, typical of the Mets in so many ways. What would have been the harm in trying him in right for a few games? The more information, the better. And, I don’t buy that is a move you do in spring training. Beltran is an accomplished outfielder; he could’ve moved relatively easily.

Jerry Manuel doesn’t have the backbone in the best of times to do this move, so with his lame duck status he doesn’t need the aggravation.

2) Oliver Perez: The Mets hate Oliver Perez and Oliver Perez hates the Mets. The only way the Mets rid themselves of that contract is to see if he has any trade value. You can’t do that with him buried in the pen. Get over it, Perez won this battle. It’s time for the Mets to salvage something. Their only hope is if he’ll find something pitching in the Mexican Leagues.

The Mets and Manuel went eye-to-eye with Perez on this, but there was no way they could have won. Since they wouldn’t eat the contract, they needed to find another use for Perez and they didn’t. Perez deserves the lion’s share of the blame, but Manuel and Minaya didn’t handle this well, either.

3) Hisanori Takahashi: The Mets like Takahashi as a reliever, but Takahashi fancies himself as a starter. Takahashi did well in that role in several opportunities, enough to where he’ll attract some attention. Takahashi holds the cards in this, and can you picture him staying when there’s money to be made as a starter? Nope.

With Francisco Rodriguez out and perhaps questionable for next year, the Mets could need a closer. The closer in waiting is Bobby Parnell, he of the 100 mph., fastball. The Mets have control of Parnell, not Takahashi. Parnell is the one with the closer’s future. He should’ve been given the opportunity to close. Instead, in this lost season Manuel thought Takahashi gave him a better chance to win a handful of games. Big deal. This was an opportunity lost to learn something.

There comes a time in a season when the competitive fires are doused and the playoffs stop becoming a dream. For the Mets, the end started with the West Coast trip after the All-Star break, with the finishing touches put on after losing consecutive series to Philadelphia and Atlanta.

From that point on, the season was lost and the balance should have been directed toward looking ahead to next year.

Who knows? Perez is probably a lost cause, but the answers on Beltran and Parnell could have been useful.

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.

Jun 24

Mets Chat Room: Pagan sits vs. Tigers.

Game #72 vs. Tigers

The Mets will be going for the sweep tonight against Detroit without, as expected, without center fielder Angel Pagan, who is sidelined with a muscle spasm in his right side.

Jesus Feliciano will start in center.

Pagan left last night’s game in the seventh inning, and typically Jerry Manuel rests a player the day after taking him out of a game with an injury.

Manuel said Pagan could be able to play tomorrow night against Minnesota.

Continue reading

Jun 22

Beltran to begin rehab games.

BELTRAN: Getting closer.

The clock is about to start for Carlos Beltran, who has been running the bases in extended spring training games. The next step is minor league rehab games, and GM Omar Minaya said today that will be Thursday in Port St. Lucie.

Once the rehab games begin Beltran has a 20-day window to return to the Mets. That would be after the All-Star break. If the window expires and Beltran isn’t ready, the Mets would need his permission to stay in the minors.

As of now, both Beltran and the Mets see the player as a center fielder, which would mean a platoon role for Angel Pagan.

The club also announced John Maine will seek a second opinion on his shoulder.  Based on his contractual status the Mets don’t need Maine’s permission to go to the minor leagues.

Apr 21

April 21.10: Although news not good on Beltran, it was still a good signing.

The news isn’t good on Carlos Beltran, who was examined Tuesday in Vail, Colo. Beltran remains in neutral with no word on a potential return that is anything other than guesswork.

Beltran, who underwent knee surgery in the offseason, hasn’t been cleared to start running. And, until he runs there’s no telling when he’ll begin baseball activities, and after that a return to the line-up.

Initially, the prognosis was up to six weeks following running for a return in May. That’s not happening. Try June now, or maybe after the All-Star break. Who is to say? I mean, who is to say with any authority?

“It’s kind of unfortunate,’’ manager Jerry Manuel said. “But what we have to do is we have to continue to play the way we have the last three or four games and hope that Carlos recovers quickly. He’s obviously an integral part of our lineup, but Angel (Pagan) is playing real well.’’

Maybe so, but there’s a reason why Pagan is a role player and Beltran a perennial All-Star.

Let’s assume at least until the end of June at the earliest. For now, Pagan is the center fielder. Gary Matthews will be kept for insurance. For now I don’t believe they’ll bring up Fernando Martinez as long as Pagan is producing.

I’ve always liked Beltran. He works hard, he hustles and he plays hurt. This was an unfortunate injury, but it would be unfair to say he was a bad signing.

This is a player who played hurt. I don’t think it would be fair to say just because this injury has lasted that the Mets should regret signing Beltran. This guy showed what he is made of when he played with a broken face after his collision with Mike Cameron.

The only thing of hindsight was the issue of the surgery. It should have been done last year, not last winter. Had it been done in September instead of trying to get him back in a lost season they might have him now.